Campaign launched to cut spirit duty

Distillers and wine producers are launching a new campaign to call for a 2% cut in duty. The Drop the Duty campaign comes as a new report highlights the economic benefits of a wine and spirits duty cut in the March 2015 budget.

The EY report claims that a 2% cut in duty on wine and spirits would give Chancellor George Osborne a £1.5bn boost to the public finances in 2015.

The ‘Drop the Duty!’ campaign was launched by The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and is supported by the TaxPayers’ Alliance. It aims to raise awareness of the high rate of tax UK consumers currently pay and mobilise the public to take action.

UK consumers currently pay nearly 80% tax on an average priced bottle of spirits and almost 60% on an average priced bottle of wine. On a category basis, that means 78% tax on whisky (£10.06 on an average bottle); 79% tax on gin (£10.03 on an average bottle); 76% on vodka (£9.48 on an average bottle); and 56% tax on a bottle of wine (£2.93 on an average bottle).

The EY report says that a 2% cut in duty would boost public finances by £1.5bn through increased investment across the industry; greater tax income from corporation tax and VAT; and from the benefits of jobs created in pubs, bars, restaurants, shops and the wider supply chain.

David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “If you buy a bottle of Scotch Whisky to celebrate Christmas and New Year, nearly 80% of the average price you pay goes straight to the Government.  This is unfair on both consumers and the Scotch Whisky industry. We are calling for George Osborne to do the right thing and cut excise duty by 2% in next year’s Budget. New evidence shows that lowering these draconian levels of excise duty would actually boost public finances and the economy, as well as benefit consumers.”

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, added: “It is important that the Chancellor hears this message directly from consumers so I am encouraging all our supporters to make their voice heard by joining the ‘Drop the Duty!’ campaign and emailing their MP at www.droptheduty.co.uk.”

Countdown to Christmas week one