19th March, 2014 by Lauren Eads
Campaigners are toasting the success of a hard-fought campaign after it was announced that the “unfair” alcohol duty escalator on wines and spirits is to be scrapped and duty on all spirits frozen.
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 (ADE).
Since it was introduced in 2008, tax on wine has increased by 50% and by 44% on spirits which campaigners argued was costing the industry “vital jobs and unfairly hitting consumers in the pocket”.
Today their efforts were rewarded as Chancellor George Osborne announced he would be scrapping the ADE in this year’s Budget, announced today.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “It is great news that our Call Time on Duty campaign has been successful. This will be widely welcomed by consumers and businesses across the UK. The Chancellor’s decision to scrap the alcohol duty escalator a year early and freeze alcohol duty for spirits is fantastic news and will be widely welcomed by consumers and businesses.
“The move will help British pubs, bars, and restaurants up and down the country, and will boost jobs and investment in the great British drinks industry and in the hospitality sector more widely. While we would have liked to have seen a complete freeze on wine duty, the WSTA and our Call Time on Duty campaign partners applauds the Chancellor’s decision to scrap the escalator and will be raising a toast to George Osborne.”
David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “This show of support for distillers from the Coalition Government will be warmly welcomed across the Scotch whisky industry.
“We are delighted that the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury listened to our case for scrapping the unfair alcohol duty escalator and freezing whisky duty. It is a move that supports hard-pressed consumers, a major manufacturing and export industry and the wider hospitality sector.
“This fairer tax treatment in the UK, the third biggest market for Scotch whisky, also sends the right signal on excise policy to the governments of the 200 countries to which we export. So its effects will be felt around the world.”
The decision to scrap the ADE follows the scrapping of the beer duty escalator in 2013.
Duty on beer was also cut by 1 pence per pint in this year’s budget.