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MPs back Drop the Duty campaign by taking trade's duty call to the Chancellor

Published:  11 February, 2015

MPs across the country are starting to respond to independent wine merchants and members of the wider wine and spirits industry who have contacted them through the Drop the Duty campaign calling on them to lobby the Chancellor for a 2% duty cut in the March Budget.

Harpers has this week been calling, in particular, on wine merchants, as part of its March for the Independents campaign, to go to the website, enter their postcode, and send a templated letter to their MP setting out the trade reasons why a 2% cut is justified on solid financial grounds.

Harpers is also urging independents to send a personal letter to their MP inviting them to their business so that they can explain to them the issues themselves as well as raise as any other local business concerns.

For ease Harpers has produced a templated letter that independents can simply download from the Action Week 2 area of March for the Independents and email to their MP. Merchants can personalise the letter and set out any separate issues they would like to discuss with their MP.

MPs that have been contacted by independent wine merchants this week include the Conservative MP, Zach Goldsmith of the Richmond Park and North Kingston constituency.

Conservative MP Zach Goldsmith has spoken about success of cut in beer duty Conservative MP Zach Goldsmith has spoken about success of cut in beer dutySource: Guardian

In a reply to Stephen Forward of Essentially Wine, Goldsmith said he had "passed similar messages" for a drop in duty to the Chancellor. He pointed out that George Osborne had already listened to the concerns of the trade by ending the alcohol duty escalator in last year's Budget. He added: "The government has already introduced new laws to prevent alcohol being sold below minimum tax rates, helping to prevent supermarkets undercutting pubs and problem drinking. As the Chancellor said, this is a far more targeted approach than the alcohol duty escalator."

He said the 1p cut in beer duty in last year's Budget had helped "support jobs in the pub industry," and was "great news for the pubs here in our constituency, as well as, people who work in them in and the wider industry".

Goldsmith stressed to Forward that "the government has listened to the concerns of those who campaigned strongly on this issue ahead of the Budget and has taken action to help individuals and business where it can".

Minister's support

Jane Ellison MP, Minister of Public Health has taken up the duty cut call with the Chancellor Jane Ellison MP, Minister of Public Health has taken up the duty cut call with the Chancellor

Jane Ellison, the Conservative MP for Battersea, Balham and Wandsworth, and Public Health minister has written to Harpers editor, Richard Siddle, after he contacted her through the campaign, organised by the Wine & Spirit Trade Assocation and the Scotch Whisky Association. She said: "I appreciate your concerns about the impact of alcohol duty and the need to stimulate economic growth. As the Public Health Minister, I am, of course also conscious of the need to encourage responsible drinking and tackle alcohol misuse.

Jane Ellison's response Jane Ellison's response

She added: "You will be aware that Treasury ministers have taken a number of steps with regards to alcohol duty in recent years. To share your views on a further cut, I have, as you ask , written to the Chancellor, enclosing a copy of your correspondence."

Cambridge's MP Julien Huppert Liberal DemocratCambridge's MP Julien Huppert Liberal DemocratHuppert has taken up Cambridge Wine Merchant's Hal Wilson request to write to Chancellor George Osborne calling for a 2% cut in alcohol duty in 2015 Budget

Hal Wilson of Cambridge Wine Merchants has already had a response from his local Liberal Democrat MP, Julian Huppert, who wrote to him saying last year's decision to "cut beer duty was an enormous success" as it "lowered prices for consumers and helped businesses flourish in an otherwise challenging economic environment".

In a letter sent by Huppert to the Chancellor, George Osborne, he wrote: "I agree with my constituent that there is a very strong case for extending cuts to duty for spirits and wine. My constituent is asking that the government introduce a 2% cut in the duty of all alcohol. My constituent does a very good job in outlining all of the economic benefits we could expect - in terms of increased consumption, job creation, and also how it would help public finances. I would be grateful if you could consider his request."

You can play your part and lobby your MP by:

For more details on how you can take part in the Harpers ongoing March for the Independents campaign go to our Campaigns area of the site.

You can also register to attend a special one day conference for independent wine merchants on March 3 at London's St Ermin's Hotel with the chance to network and discuss key trading issues with fellow merchants.