Drinks trade urges chancellor to protect drinks and hospitality sectors

09 November 2023 by
Drinks trade urges chancellor to protect drinks and hospitality sectors

Over 400 drinks businesses have urged the chancellor Jeremy Hunt to keep to his pledge to halve inflation by cancelling the planned increase in alcohol duty in his autumn statement.

In an open letter to the chancellor, organisations including the Scotch Whisky Association, the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), and UK Spirits Alliance (UKSA), warned Hunt that a further increase in alcohol tax will harm the hospitality sector and businesses more widely.

The collective call comes after the drinks industry faced an overall tax hike earlier in the summer; a complete re-working of the alcohol duty system saw excise duty on alcohol increase by 10.1 percent from 1 August.

The groups have warned a further tax hike would fuel inflation, which Hunt and the prime minister Rishi Sunak pledged to halve by the end of the year.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: "The damage done by August's hikes are clear: they have stoked inflation, pushed up prices for cash-strapped consumers and damaged British businesses across the hard-hit alcoholic drinks and hospitality sector, including distillers.

"A second alcohol duty rise would be self-defeating and could prove the final nail in the coffin for some British drinks businesses."

Mark Kent, chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, added raising the duty in August was "a mistake the chancellor shouldn't repeat in November" and that distillers fear a further tax increase will impact producers, the businesses they supply and consumers.

The autumn statement is scheduled for 22 November. It is one of the key financial events in the political calendar where the chancellor updates parliament on the country's finances and the government's tax and public spending plans.

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