SWA urges government to reconsider ‘damaging double-digit duty rise’ on Scotch whisky
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has urged the UK government to uphold the pledge made in 2019 to “ensure the tax system is supporting Scottish whisky” as a rise in duty looms.
Since the promise of support was made in 2019, the tax burden on Scotch whisky has increased from 70% to 75% of the average priced bottle, according to the SWA.
The trade body has now launched the ‘Keep the Commitment’ campaign to press the UK government to re-think the decision to increase duty on Scotch whisky and other spirits by 10.1% from August.
“We want MPs to support Scotch whisky, including in the vote [this] week on the tax increased proposed by the Chancellor,” Mark Kent, chief executive of the SWA, said.
“By voting against the tax increase, MPs can send a clear message to the Chancellor that he should meet the industry, reconsider the tax rise, and keep the commitment to support Scotch,” Kent said.
“Over the past month we have pressed the UK government to rethink the damaging double-digit duty rise on Scotch Whisky.
“It is hugely disappointing that the industry seems to be taken for granted, and that previous pledges that have been made to the industry will not be honoured,” he added.
The tax-gap between spirits and other alcohol categories has also widened since 2019.
Tax breaks have been further extended for draught products in pubs, bars and restaurants. These breaks exclude 99% of distillers, according to SWA, and increase the tax differential between Scotch whisky versus beer and cider. Per unit of alcohol, the tax gap to beer in the on-trade – already 51% – will rise to 66%, and for cider it will rise from 227% to 260%.
The SWA is therefore asking the UK government to allow distillers immediate access to the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. Spirits are currently the only alcohol category excluded from the scheme. The ‘Keep the Commitment’ campaign also calls on government to reverse the 10.1% tax hike due to come into force on 1st August.