Industry pleas for alcohol duty freezeBy Melita Kiely
More than 100 industry professionals are collectively urging the UK chancellor to cancel its double-digit tax rise on spirits, wine, cider and beer.
A total of 116 companies and trade bodies have signed an open letter published in The Times urging UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt to bring back the duty freeze.
Hunt is due to make his autumn budget statement on Thursday 17 November.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), said: “The mood across the UK alcohol industry is bleak following the Treasury’s U-turn on a duty freeze. Businesses feel like the rug has been pulled from under them and are bracing themselves for the chancellor to deliver a damaging double-digit tax rise at the autumn budget this week.
“This could not have come at a worse time for the alcohol trade with bars and restaurants, producers and suppliers still reeling from pandemic lockdowns and having to manage ever-increasing costs and global supply chain issues.
“Cash-strapped consumers will be picking up the bill with prices of their favourite drinks set to soar next year. We are calling on Jeremy Hunt to throw us a lifeline; there is still time to bring back the duty freeze.
“History has shown that freezing alcohol duty does not negatively impact on Treasury coffers, over the past five years during a stable period for alcohol duty, government income from taxing alcohol has increased by 18% – because of, not despite, duty freezes.”
Signatories included: Mark Kent, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association; Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality; Alex Wolpert, founder of the East London Liquor Company; and Kathy Caton, founder and managing director of Brighton Gin, to name a few.
The published letter in The Times said: “Sir, the government’s decision to reverse the alcohol duty freeze will result in a double-digit tax rise that unnecessarily fuels inflation, leads to higher prices for consumers and to thousands of jobs being put at risk.
“The U-turn comes on the back of a turbulent time for bars and restaurants, which are struggling to manage ever-increasing costs, supply chain issues and a shrinking customer base as households feel the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis. People are already finding that their favourite drinks have become unaffordable.
“It does not have to be this way. Over the past five years, during a stable period for alcohol duty, government income from taxing alcohol has increased by 18%. Despite the challenges of Brexit, the pandemic and disruption to global supply chains, our sector has provided increased revenue to the Exchequer because of, not despite, duty freezes.
“We urge the government to support the drinks industry and cancel the double-digit tax increases on spirits, wine, cider and beer.”