Scotch Whisky Industry Meets With Treasury Minister On 77% Tax Burden

-SWA makes case for 2% excise cut in March Budget-

-Cut likely to lead to increase in spirits revenue for Treasury-

The Scotch Whisky industry today met with the Treasury in advance of the UK Budget on 8 March to put its case for a 2% cut in spirits duty.

Representatives from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) met the Financial Secretary to HM Treasury, Jane Ellison MP, to discuss the pressures on the industry caused by the 77% tax burden on the price of an average bottle of Scotch.

The SWA has issued a call to action to ‘Stand up for Scotch’. As well as being fair on the industry and consumers, government figures show that a cut in excise boosts the public purse. Following the 2% cut in spirits duty in March 2015, spirits revenue in 2015/16 increased by £123 million to £3.15 billion. Spirits revenue is now £155m a year higher than when the alcohol duty escalator was scrapped in 2014.

As the largest net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade in goods, Scotch Whisky is vital to the economy and a truly global drink. The SWA says that during a time of change created by Brexit, the industry needs a supportive domestic tax environment. A 2% cut in excise would be a move in the right direction, as would steps towards excise duty fairness in future Budgets.

A cut would also give relief to consumers who are currently paying a high level of tax to enjoy a dram. People who choose Scotch Whisky pay 51% more duty than beer drinkers, 19% more than wine drinkers and 327% more than cider consumer per unit of alcohol. The SWA believes this is unfair on responsible drinkers of Scotch.

David Williamson, public affairs director at the Scotch Whisky Association, said:

“We had a constructive discussion with the Financial Secretary, highlighting that a cut in excise is likely to increase spirits revenue to the government, as well as boost distillers, large and small. We hope the Government will listen to the evidence by cutting excise on spirits by 2% to grow the public finances and reduce the onerous 77% tax burden on Scotch.

“A fair and competitive domestic tax environment is also an important part of the Brexit jigsaw, ensuring a strategically important industry like Scotch Whisky is well placed to invest and grow in the future.”