Wine and beer trade associations have hit back at UK Chancellor Alistair Darling’s decision to reduce planned tax increases on spirits and alcopops only.
The Pre Budget Report announced an 8% increase in alcohol duty to off-set an across the board 2.5% cut in VAT.
The Treasury acted to ease the impact on spirits of the duty changes, reducing it to 4%, recognising the 8% duty rise would have resulted unintentionally in a price increase.
The wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) is calling on the Chancellor to rethink his plans on excise duty to ensure the wine and beer sectors aren't penalised.
Jeremy Beadles, Chief Executive of the WSTA, said: "We welcome the admission that the tax change was wrong because it meant consumers paying more, but if that's true for spirits it's also true for wine.
"It is baffling that the Government should think that what's right for spirits is wrong for wine. The Chancellor must remove this anomaly as a matter of urgency."
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has expressed surprise at the announcement. Rob Hayward, BBPA Chief Executive said: “The decision to raise tax rates on alcohol was disappointing, but we are surprised to now find out that a last minute deal on spirits has singled them out for special tax cutting treatment.
“We are therefore calling on the Chancellor to urgently reconsider his latest beer tax hike. As a major employer and considering the pressures on the pub, we believe we also deserve a fair crack of the whip.
“If the Government is now changing the rules for spirits, it must change the rules for beer. It should consult on these issues. On what basis has he decided to grant a tax cut only on Scotch Whisky, spirits and alcopops?”