Liberal Democrats promise to review alcohol tax

21st November, 2019 by Melita Kiely

UK political party the Liberal Democrats has pledged to review the UK alcohol duty system to support the whisky industry – a move that has been welcomed by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Scotch whisky ice

The Liberal Democrats party has said it will review alcohol tax in its general election manifesto

As the UK general election approaches on 12 December, the Liberal Democrats party said in its manifesto that it would “review the UK excise duty structure to better support whisky exports”.

Karen Betts, SWA chief executive, commented: “Momentum is building towards fundamental reform of the UK’s outdated alcohol taxation system.

“We welcome this commitment. A simplified alcohol duty regime, which removes the competitive disadvantage faced by UK spirits producers, led by Scotch whisky, will increase competitiveness and continue to deliver billions of pounds in revenue to support public services.

“We continue to encourage all political parties and candidates standing in the general election to support the Scotch whisky industry and ensure we have an alcohol tax system that is fit for purpose in today’s economy and society.”

Earlier this month, UK prime minister Boris Johnson, head of the Conservative Party, also pledged to review UK alcohol taxation, which the SWA said could “reform a broken system”.

The UK Budget had been due to take place this month (November), but has been postponed indefinitely due to the general election.

The Scotch whisky industry has long campaigned for UK alcohol duty reform, most recently in light of tariffs imposed on single malt Scotch in the US. The industry argued that relieving some of the tax pressures in the UK would support businesses while the tariffs remain in place.

Boris Johnson urged US president Donald Trump to remove tariffs on EU goods, including single malt Scotch, earlier this month.

The US imposed the tariffs on single malt Scotch last month (October) as the result of an ongoing dispute with the EU over aircraft subsidies.

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