Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

'Help us help you': wine and spirits trade call to Chancellor

Published:  15 December, 2014

"Help us, help you" was the direct message laid down to the Chancellor by the wine and spirits industry at today's media launch of its new Drop the Duty campaign.

Drop the DutyDrop the Duty

With no duty cut on wine since 1984 and spirits since 1996, Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, today said it was time the Chancellor "supported a great British industry" with a 2% cut in next year's budget.

If Chancellor George Osborne follows suit, economic mapping figures,  produced by Ernst & Young, show it would "boost public finances" by £1.5 billion and increase the wine and spirit industry's contribution to the economy by a further £3.9 billion through related VAT, corporation tax and investment.

Beale joined forces today with David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, to get the campaign's key messages across to the national media.

They were joined by Jonathan Isaby, head of the TaxPayers' Alliance, who said MPs have the chance to "help people's cost of living" by "easing their tax burden" on wine and spirits. Isaby said the public would be "shocked" by the amount of money the "government is seizing" with 80% of duty on whisky and nearly 60% on wine.

Beale told at today's media launch that there were clear signs in the industry of "confidence being up" and businesses being prepared to invest more in the short time since the duty escalator was scrapped in the last budget.

"We are seeing new and expanded businesses and greater investment," stressed Beale.

He said a key part of the 2015 campaign would be to engage with producers and wine and spirit companies that are investing in the UK and how a duty cut would make working here more competitive.

"We will be looking to raise the international voice in favour of a duty cut," he added.

"We need to do what we can to progress that investment in the UK."

Frost said it made sense for the SWA and WSTA to combine forces and unite behind the Drop the Duty campaign. Together they will be able to better lobby MPs and MSPs and make the economic case right across the country, he told

"Our start and end points might be different, but we are both faced with the underlying problem of high duty rates," said Frost.

A number of Scottish politicians, for example, have distilleries in their constituencies and it will be working hard to explain the boost a duty cut would bring to those local economies, he added.

He believed the key messages in the Drop the Duty campaign would also help in its wider legal bid to halt the introduction of minimum pricing in Scotland.

Today's media launch was held in the Punch Tavern on Fleet Street in London which had been transformed to show what a pub run by Chancellor George Osborne would look like.