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Saturday 19 April 2014

WSTA launches ‘Call Time on Duty’ campaign

18th December, 2013 by Rupert Millar

Scrapping the alcohol duty escalator would create 6,000 jobs and generate £230 million in revenue a new report has revealed as the WSTA opens a new campaign to get the measure removed from the 2014 budget.

EscalatorThe study was conducted by Ernst & Young and has been quickly taken up by the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) as it launches its “Call Time on Duty” campaign, which is arguing for an end to the escalator and a freeze on alcohol duty.

The report found that, directly or indirectly, the drinks industry supported 475,000 jobs in the UK in 2012; in 2012/13 the industry supported over £40bn of UK economic activity and contributed £14.5bn in taxes.

Employment growth in the industry has apparently been falling since the introduction of the escalator and scrapping it would see 6,000 jobs generated in 2014 alone as well as revenue rise from £230m to £265m between 2014 and 2018.

The WSTA campaign will urge “responsible drinkers” to email their local members of Parliament and ask them to write to the chancellor George Osborne to get the escalator scrapped from the 2014 budget.

A similar move involving personalised cider bottles has been launched by the National Association of Cider Makers.

The escalator was introduced in 2008 and has added tax on alcohol by 2% above inflation every year since and will do so again in 2014 and its final year in 2015.

The tax on wine has increased 50% in that time and that of spirits by 44% say the WSTA. Under Osborne the amount of tax per bottle of spirits has risen to 79% of the average price and gone up to 57% of the average price of wine.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “Today’s report by EY shows that scrapping the alcohol duty escalator in 2014 could benefit the economy to the tune of £230 million in public finances and create an extra 6,000 new jobs. This shows that the alcohol duty escalator is bad for consumers, bad for the economy, and bad for business.

“So our message to the Chancellor is clear: if you’re serious about creating jobs, supporting growth and cutting taxes, then you need to be fair and call time on your inflation-busting alcohol super tax. People who want to make their voice heard can email their MP at www.calltimeonduty.co.uk.”

The WSTA’s campaign will no doubt have been furthered boosted by the news from the Office of National Statistics that binge drinking in the UK is declining.

ONS data shows that between 2005 and 2012 there was a fall from 22% to 14% in the proportion of men who were frequent drinkers and a 13% to 9% drop in the proportion of women.

Commenting on the ONS figures Beale said: “While there is still work to be done, these figures show that responsible drinking messages are being heard and that more and more people are drinking sensibly, within the guidelines.

Despite claims to the contrary, alcohol consumption in the UK has been falling since 2004, well before the start of the economic recession. These figures point to a much wider change in attitudes towards alcohol and responsible consumption and are to be welcomed.”

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