Cheer As Chancellor Bows To Industry Pressure To Freeze Duty

Chancellor Philip Hammond today announced a freeze on duty prices for beers, wine and spirits. In his statement to the House of Commons”the Chancellor said recognising the pressure on household budgets and backing our great British pubs, duties and other ciders wines spirits and beer will be frozen. This will mean a bottle of whiskey will be £1.15 p less in 2018 than if we had continued with Labour’s plans, a pint of beer 12p less. So Merry Christmas Mr Deputy Speaker!

In his March Budget ,Hammond promised to increase duty in line with inflation or 3.9 per cent. The increase put an even further strain on the pub sector – with wine up by 8p, vodka up by 40p and gin by 43p.

The “freeze” comes after repeated calls from industry bodies such as the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) for duties to be frozen in order to ease the tax burden on hospitality operators.

Britain’s alcohol is among the most heavily taxed in the world, (see CLH News poster to compare beer duty with other EU countries) with the third highest duty rate for wine, and fourth-highest for spirits.

Pubs across the UK have been closing at an alarming rate, despite years of tax cuts and freezes under former Chancellor George Osborne, which is attributed largely to high levels of duty. According to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) UK wine and spirits industry generates in excess of £50 billion in economic activity, with almost £18 billion going to the public purse.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said:

“We are pleased that the Chancellor has found his festive spirit and listened to the call from the WSTA and its members and has frozen wine and spirit duty. He has shown the Government is in touch with what consumers want and is supporting an industry which is proving to be a real asset to British business. He has recognised that rebalancing the UK’s excessive duty rates is a win/win for both the Treasury, the wine and spirit trade – not to mention consumers. This decision will be celebrated by millions who will raise a glass this festive season!”

Katie Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) said “at a time of rising costs, a freeze in the beer duty and a continuation of support for pubs on business rates is very welcome. The ALMR has been pushing for a duty freeze across all alcohol types, and this positive action will help tackle rising costs, saving the sector around £116 million as well as underpinning consumer confidence”