The UK experienced a 6% fall in alcohol consumption in 2009, its fourth annual decline in five years and the biggest year-on-year decline since 1948, according to new figures. A report from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) - part of its annual review of the industry - said that beer remained the favoured choice of tipple in pubs and bars, accounting for 60% of all alcohol sales in the on-trade, compared to wine at 17% in second place. Total beer spend is £17bn per year - 41% of all spending on alcohol. Of this, the BBPA said £13.5bn is spent in the on-trade, and £26.5bn in the off-trade. Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “These figures will confound many pundits, as yet again they confirm that as a nation, we are not drinking more. Those who suggest otherwise need to focus on the hard facts.” The handbook also reports that UK taxes on beer remain among the highest compared with other countries, with the second highest duty rate in EU - ten times higher than in Germany, and, seven times higher than in France. The BBPA said that £5.5bn was paid in duty and VAT in 2009. In total, alcohol contributes £14.6bn to UK tax revenues, added the organisation. Simmonds added: “This handbook also reminds us of just how vital a role beer and pubs play in the UK economy, in terms of turnover, jobs, and tax revenues. The new numbers show just how closely linked beer is to Britain’s struggling pubs, with beer accounting for around 60% of on-trade sales. Policy-makers should take note.”