The body warned that high levels of tax on wine and spirits in the UK are undermining recovery in the drinks sector.
In its Budget submission, the WSTA said the scale of tax increases on alcohol over the last 2 years – over 20% for wine and 15% for spirits – has contributed to widespread job losses in the drinks industry. The tax escalator introduced in the March 2008 Budget threatens to deliver another 5% tax increase on alcohol in the coming weeks. There are fears the Chancellor may raise excise duties further to plug the hole in public finances despite evidence that higher taxes are failing to match revenue forecasts.
WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles has urged exchequer secretary Sarah McCarthy-Fry to postpone the tax escalator, given the fragile state of the industry and the wider economy. He said: “While other industries have had a helping hand over the last couple of years we and the millions of consumers who enjoy our products have been hit again and again by tax increases.
“Enough is enough. We know the public finances are in difficulty but pushing up prices with higher taxes does nothing to help British consumers or businesses battling to recover from the recession.”