WSTA chief slams UK duty increases

26 September, 2013

Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) chief executive Miles Beale, has criticised the UK government’s so-called ‘Alcohol Duty Escalator’ which has seen the tax on wine and spirits rise by up to 50%.

Beale was speaking at the WSTA’s annual conference, yesterday (September 25). He said achieving a taxation system which is fair for responsible businesses is the biggest priority for the wine and spirit industry.

He said: “Since the alcohol duty escalator was introduced in 2008, tax on wine has increased by 50% and spirits by 44%. While the Chancellor has removed beer from the duty escalator he has now increased duty on wines and spirits by 25% since 2010.

“The WSTA has been, and will continue to be, vocal in our criticism of the duty escalator," he said.

“Given the Government’s concession that the impact of the duty escalator on beer was bad for pubs, the escalator concept itself is now damaged. It is bad for businesses, bad for the economy and bad for consumers. Over the coming months we will be working hard to demonstrate the real world impact of the on-going duty escalator on our trade, its employees and its potential - with the objective of having the duty escalator removed a year early in 2014,” Beale told the conference.

“This is an ambitious target but one which we believe is achievable. Our recent market report showed that pub sales were down again this summer - some 6% compared to the same 12 weeks of last year - and this helps to demonstrate the importance of wines & spirits to the on-trade, including pubs,” he said.

“Sometimes, as an industry, we forget just how much we give to the UK economy. The industry is worth £38 billion to the economy, supports almost 2 million jobs, contributes to growth, and crucially, the sector’s success provides £17bn in tax revenues to the Chancellor," said Beale.

“Penalising such success is unfair and at odds with the Government’s claim to reward success and support competitiveness,” he said.

“Fairness is going to be a key theme of our campaigning activity between now and the Budget,” said the WSTA chief.

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