WSTA ramps up bid to end alcohol super-tax

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) is calling on the drinks industry to get behind its campaign to end an “unfair” alcohol super-tax – one month before this year’s UK budget is set.

Miles Beale

Miles Beale

Earlier this month dozens of MPs and representatives from the wine and spirits sector gathered to see the launch of ‘Call Time on Duty’ – a campaign spearheaded by The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), Taxpayer’s Alliance and Scotch Whisky Association to end the alcohol duty escalator.

Since it was introduced in 2008, tax on wine has increased by 50% and by 44% on spirits which campaigners argue is costing the industry “vital jobs and unfairly hitting consumers in the pocket”.

UK consumers now pay more in alcohol duty than France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland combined.

Independent research from Ernst and Young has found that scrapping the Alcohol Duty Escalator will create over 6,000 jobs and boost the public finances by £230 million in 2014 alone and will actually help the Chancellor reduce the deficit and cut unemployment.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “If the drinks industry unites to make its voice heard, then our campaign will be increasingly hard to ignore. With only four weeks to go until the Chancellor delivers his Budget we need to ensure our voice rings out loud and clear in the corridors of power.

The Escalator is bad for the economy, bad for business and bad for the consumer. It is vital to spell out clearly to the Chancellor the significant contribution of a great British industry to jobs and growth in the UK – as well as its potential if he scraps the Escalator one year early in next month’s Budget.”

The alcohol duty escalator has automatically increased the rate of taxation on wine and spirits by 2% above inflation each year since 2008.

This means that for an average bottle of spirit 79% of its purchase cost is accounted for by tax, and 57% for wines.

Unless the escalator is scrapped in 2014, this figure will go up to 80% and 60% respectively.

This week the WTSA outlined five ways in which members of the industry can support the campaign and work together to persuade the UK government to scrap the alcohol duty escalator in tis budget, set for approval on 19 March.

1. Email your local MP via the Call Time on Duty website and request that they write to the Chancellor on your behalf

2. Encourage your friends, family and colleagues to email their local MP

3. Follow the campaign on Twitter @CallTimeOnDuty and Tweet your followers to also get behind the campaign

4. Send a letter or a press release to your local paper and outline the impact of the Escalator on your business

5. Display a copy of the campaign poster around your workplace

To read a copy of the WSTA’s open letter to the trade click here.

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