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WSTA urges industry to lobby MPs before Budget

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has kicked off its latest campaign for a 2% cut to wine and spirits duty in the UK, calling for an “unprecedented effort from the industry”.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, has urged “unprecedented” action from the UK drinks industry ahead of this year’s Budget

Ahead of chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget Statement in March, the WSTA has developed a Budget support pack for its members, which aims to give them guidance on contacting and lobbying their local MPs.

The association, which successfully lobbied the government to scrap the alcohol tax escalator in 2014, said a 2% duty cut in this year’s Budget would boost the wine and spirits industries by £2.9 billion and increase Treasury revenues by £368m.

In particular, a 2% cut “could provide a boost” to the UK’s 233 distilleries worth an average of £685,000. Compared to an inflationary rise of 3%, it would be a saving worth 55p for every litre of spirits produced, the WSTA stated.

“Politicians will need to see first-hand the breadth and value of the industry to the UK if they are to understand the positive impact a 2% duty cut can have for our businesses, consumers and – perhaps surprisingly – the Treasury,” said Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA. “The only way they can do this is if businesses themselves engage directly with their local representatives.”

“We believe with an unprecedented and concerted effort by the industry we can convince the chancellor to make the right choice to back British businesses and make the cut.”

However, the WSTA warned that the wine industry risks being “singled out again for worse treatment” and so urged “concerted action” from the wine trade in the run-up to the Budget.

The industry faces a “triple whammy” of higher inflation, the devaluation of the pound and potential duty increases, which would be “devastating” for trade members in 2017, the association said.

While the government froze duty on spirits, beer and cider in 2016, wine duty increased with inflation, while wine was the only alcoholic beverage not to receive a 2% duty cut in 2015.

Chancellor Philip Hammond will deliver the 2017 Budget Statement on 8 March.

The WSTA previously released data showing that the UK Government’s 2016 spirits duty freeze added £1.48bn to the British economy in six months.

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