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TaxPayers Alliance calls on the public to get behind Call Time On Duty campaign

Published:  06 March, 2014

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers Alliance has thrown his weight behind the wine and spirit industry's Call Time On Duty campaign, by callling on the public to lobby their MPs to urge the Chancellor to stop the duty escalator.

The TPA held a special reception last week to raise the issue with its members, interested parties and MPs as the momentum behind the Call Time on Duty campaign ramps up as we count down to the Budget on March 19. It has also produced thousands of coasters it is releasing in pubs across the country setting out the facts behind the campaign to the average British pub goer.

Here Jonathan Isaby sets out the reasons why the TPA is backing the campaign in an open letter:

"Last week the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) was pleased to join with our campaign partners, the WSTA and the SWA, when we launched the latest phase of the Call Time on Duty campaign to scrap the Alcohol Duty Escalator in the upcoming Budget.

"The TPA helped break the fuel duty escalator and last year we successfully campaigned for the abolition of the duty escalator on beer. Now we are turning our attention to the alcohol duty escalator on wine and spirits. Since the escalator was introduced in 2008, spirits taxation has increased by 44% and wine taxation by no less than 50%.

"In fact, since George Osborne became Chancellor, the tax on both has gone up by 25% meaning the UK now pays nearly 40% of the total alcohol tax bill for the entire European Union. Incredibly, we pay more alcohol duty than France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland combined.

"Independent research by Ernst & Young has found scrapping the escalator one year early would benefit the public finances by £230m and create 6,000 new jobs. So removing the escalator would not only be good news for consumers it would also help to reduce the government deficit.

"Wine and spirit sales currently account for 42% of all alcohol products sold in pubs, bars and restaurants. So if the Chancellor really wants to help save the great British pub, 28 of which are closing each week, then scrapping the escalator should be a no-brainer.

"Polling by ComRes has found 80% of the public oppose further tax hikes on wine and spirits in the upcoming Budget. That is why we have joined the industry in calling for the Chancellor to 'be fair, George' and abolish this punitive escalator once and for all.

"Duty escalators on particular products are unfair on consumers. They make goods increasingly expensive and hit the poorest the hardest. When you buy an alcoholic drink you get hit by the taxman three times. You pay VAT, duty, and then the VAT on the duty - a triple whammy!

"Having rightly abolished the escalator on beer in last year's Budget the Chancellor should do the same for those who appreciate a G&T before dinner or a glass of wine with their meal.  

"To help with the campaign the TPA has produced hundreds of thousands of drinks coasters pointing out the stark facts to consumers - that 57% of the average priced bottle of wine is now tax and a staggering 79% for an average priced bottle of spirits.

"These coasters are now in bars and pubs up and down the country where, after discovering how much they are handing over to the Government, we want people to go to and make their voice heard by sending a message to their MP, calling for the Chancellor to scrap the escalator.

"Not only will this be fairer on hard-pressed consumers but - just as the Chancellor accepted with the abolition of the duty escalator on beer - will also help businesses up and down the country and provide benefits for the wider economy. And there's another thing: the more expensive you make the drinks with ever higher duty, the more likely you are to drive people to buy their drinks from those operating within the black economy. And guess what, once people are lured into buying their drinks on the black market, the Exchequer gets zero revenue.

"Enough is enough.

"Let's do all we can to put the wine and spirits duty escalator permanently out of action in the upcoming Budget. Email your MP today at and urge your friends and family to do the same!