The UK Spirits Alliance (UKSA) has warned chancellor Jeremy Hunt that a second tax hike in the space of six months will add further unnecessary burdens to an already struggling spirits industry and hospitality sector.
The UKSA, which represents over 280 small and independent distilleries across the country, has called on Hunt to follow a "fair approach" and freeze duty on "all drinks, rather than simply a beer and a cider pulled in a pub" in this month's Autumn Statement.
It published its submission to the Treasury ahead of the chancellor's Autumn Statement, which has been scheduled to take place next Wednesday.
In its submission, it criticised the government's ‘Brexit Pubs Guarantee' which it said "does little" to support pubs, because it excludes spirits despite one in three drinks sold in pubs containing a spirit.
The UKSA added the government's pubs policy is "hurting our pubs and bars and those consumers who choose to enjoy cocktails, spritz, or gin and tonic".
The submission comes as a survey of distillers, conducted earlier this autumn by market research company Survation, revealed an industry still grappling with the effects from Covid, with 70% of distillers stating their ability to invest in business improvements, such as production capacity and innovation, will be impacted by the increase in duty.
The survey also found almost two thirds of distillers (61%) expect to cut the amount of alcohol they produce.
Chris Jaume, co-founder and director of Cooper King Distillery in York, said the August duty increased the price of spirit and harmed "the valued hospitality venues we supply".
He added: "If duty continues to rise, we'll see demand and production drop, and our green investments stall. I'm just one of hundreds of distillers across the country who are worried for their future. The Chancellor must freeze duty on spirits in the autumn statement and support our sector."
Neema Rai, owner of Battersea Barge and Tamesis Dock in London said while the Treasury has shown support for the beer industry, it "must also support the spirit industry so that they can also have all the tools to survive and thrive".
Ria added: "Spirits make up one third of all alcoholic drinks served in hospitality settings. Policies and tax must reflect and support modern day drinking, entrepreneurship, and growth. The government risks penalising a big group of drinkers and undermining a British business success story.
"To support the current emergence and transformation of pubs and bars, the government should support the spirits sector and get behind Britain's world-famous hospitality industry. In the autumn statement, alongside distillers, we urge the Chancellor to back a duty freeze on spirits."
Image credit: Shutterstock/barmalinispirits