The Scotch whisky and gin making industry was up in arms yesterday while drinkers bemoaned two pennies added to the cost of a pint in yesterday’s Spring budget.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) called Chancellor Philip Hammond’s failure to prevent a 4% increase in excise duty on spirits a “major blow to a key UK industry”.
The Wine & Spirit Trade Association, which dubbed 2016 as the “year of gin” after 100 new distilleries opened in the UK, said the budget was a “missed opportunity to back British business”.
Meanwhile, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said the first rise in the cost of beer and cider in five years will hit both consumers and pubs.
SWA said the level of tax – excise duty and Vat – on an average priced bottle of Scotch Whisky is now at one of the highest levels in Europe, and 21% higher than in 2010.
The trade body called for a “fundamental review” of the alcohol duty system, describing the move as damaging to a major industry and at odds with the Prime Minister’s words during a speech in Glasgow last week, where she described Scotch Whisky as “a truly great Scottish and British industry”.
Julie Hesketh-Laird, the SWA’s acting chief executive, said: “Distillers will find it hard to understand why the Chancellor is penalising a strategically important British industry with this tax increase.
“At a time when government should be supporting a key home-grown sector, we face a damaging tax rise on top of the uncertainties of Brexit.”
Colin Valentine, Camra’s national chairman, said: “UK beer drinkers, pubs and brewers have been let down by the Chancellor’s decision to increase beer duty for the first time in five years.
“The announced two penny a pint increase marks a return to the days when the much-hated Beer Duty Escalator contributed to 75,000 job losses, 3,700 pub closures and a 24% fall in beer sales in pubs. The rise in beer duty will ultimately hit consumers in their pockets and lead to pub closures across the country.”
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association said: “It is disappointing that the Chancellor has failed to support a great British industry. He has increased what were already excessive and unfairly high rates of duty for the UK’s wine and spirit consumers and businesses.”