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Scotch whisky worth £5 billion to UK economy

Published:  28 January, 2015

Scotch whisky's £5 billion contribution to the UK economy is worth more than the iron, steel, textiles, shipping and computing industries, a new report has shown.

'The Economic Impact of Scotch Whisky Production in the UK' report, commissioned by the Scotch Whisky Association from 4-consulting, shows that for every £1 million of value added, the industry generates another £520,000 across the UK, such as spending on suppliers in a range of sectors, from packaging to haulage.

Drop the DutyThe government could do more to help the Scotch whisky industry, says SWA chiefThe SWA and WSTA have joined forces in a Drop the Duty Campaign, which urges the chancellor to cut the rate of duty applied to wine and spirits. PIctured - L to R- WSTA chief Miles Beale and SWA chief David Frost.

The industry also supports 40,300 jobs in the UK, up from 35,000 in 2008, in a range of sectors including glass manufacture.

Other findings of the report include:

  • The direct economic impact of industry, ignoring its wider economic benefits, is £3.3bn, up 21% since 2008.
  • Each year, Scotch whisky producers spend £1.8 billion on suppliers, with 90% of that expenditure is in the UK, including £1.4bn in Scotland.
  • Every job in Scotch whisky supports a further 2.7 British jobs.
  • Scotch whisky workers are among the most productive in Scotland - they are around four times as efficient in production as employees in aerospace, life sciences and the digital sectors.
  • Despite exports slowing down in the last year, the industry is still expanding with around 30 new distilleries planned. Capital investment hit £142 million in 2013, up 31% on 2008.  
  • Without Scotch whisky exports, worth around £4 billion per year, the UK's trade deficit would have been 16% larger in 2013.

David Frost, SWA chief executive, said: "This new report shows just how significant the Scotch whisky industry is to the wider UK economy, adding £5 billion of value, supporting over 40,000 jobs, and contributing £4 billion to Britain's trade performance. Scotch whisky must be recognised as a cultural asset that boosts growth and jobs, supports communities and combines the best of the traditional and the modern.

"Given the scale and impact of the Scotch Whisky industry we believe the government should show its support. One way of doing so, in the short term, would be for the Chancellor to cut excise duty by 2% in the March Budget. It is unfair on the industry and consumers, and detrimental to the economy, that almost 80% of the average price of a bottle of Scotch is taxation."