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Budget 2015: Industry hails duty cuts announced in today's Budget

Published:  18 March, 2015

The drinks industry has welcomed the Chancellor's decision to cut the duty on spirits and cider.

The drinks industry has welcomed the Chancellor's decision to cut the duty on spirits and cider in this year's Budget, but some remained disappointed that wine had been treated differently:

1.34 PM

Miles Beale, chief exeutive of the WSTA said: "We are delighted the government has listened to consumers and taken action to address the UK's excessive spirits duty rates. This small drop in duty will result in a big cheer for the UK's 24 million spirit consumers.

"We are grateful to those MPs who listened to their constituents and supported our campaign and hope that all parties are able to support the measures outlined today and build on them in the next Parliament. We campaigned for a cut in duty across all products and are disappointed that the UK's 30m wine consumers did not receive a duty cut too. But freezing wine duty is an improvement and a first step towards supporting wine businesses that are looking to invest in the UK, create jobs and back British pubs."


Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: "The Chancellor really is a 'Hat Trick Hero'. His third, successive beer tax cut shows he has listened to consumers, publicans and brewers.

"Beer tax is now ten pence lower than it would have been under the beer duty escalator, which he abolished.

"It will boost employment by 3,800 this year alone and attract new capital investment. It will put 180 million pounds in the pockets of beer drinkers and pubgoers. That is a huge difference.

"Cutting beer duty supports a great British Industry which contributes £22 billion to GDP and supports almost 900,000 jobs. It's also a boost for pubs, as beer accounts for seven out every ten alcohol drinks sold in our pubs.

"The renewed confidence in our sector is reflected in rising beer sales in 2014, for the first time in a decade.

1.34 PM

Tim Page, chief executive of CAMRA applauded the beer duty hat-trick:

"CAMRA is delighted with today's hat-trick of an unprecedented third consecutive cut in beer tax, with another penny of a pint, which will be welcomed by millions of beer-drinkers across the country. The last two cuts have already had a huge impact, saving over 1,000 pubs from closure and keeping the price of a pub pint down.  Independent research by CEBR forecasts that the price of a pub pint will now be more than 20p cheaper than it would have been had the beer duty escalator remained in place.

"A third cut in beer tax is a huge vote of confidence in the importance of pubs and brewing. It will help ensure the sector returns to long term growth after many years of pub closures and falling beer sales, caused in part by a 42% beer tax increase between 2008 and 2012, and throw a lifeline to struggling community pubs across the country.

"Britain is known around the world for great pubs and real ale, and we should all be incredibly proud that this industry has just reported growth for the first time in a decade. We hope Britain's millions of pub goers will head to their local this evening to give three cheers to a historic third cut in beer tax!"

1.38 PM

David Frost, chief executive of the SWA said: "This is a historic decision and only the fourth time whisky duty has been cut in a century.

"The Chancellor's announcement will be toasted across the whisky industry and by consumers who are getting a fairer deal on tax when they have a drink of Scotch. The move is a major boost to our industry as we look to grow again in the UK, and equally sends out an important signal on fair taxation to our export markets.

"The industry is raising a glass to George Osborne and his Treasury team, as well as to all those who have supported our campaign over the last two decades."

1.43 PM

Julia Trustam-Eve of English Wine Producer said of the freeze on wine: "At least nothing has been increased this year - a first in many years - so an achievement of sorts, given the already substantial contribution to the British economy that the whole wine trade at large, and as part of that the growing UK wine industry, has given over the years."

1.43 PM:

Michael Saunders, CEO Bibendum PLB Group, said: "It is welcome to see the Chancellor recognise our industry as worthy of support, against a background of punitive tax increases over past years. The reduction in spirits, beers and ciders is great news. Why it couldn't be for wine as well needs some clarity. That said, the campaign led by the WSTA has made an impact - and I thank Miles and his team for their significant efforts. I now hope there will be no need for a further campaign this year in the event of another budget post the election."

1.44 PM

Andrew Bewes, Managing director of Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines said:  

"We have fully supported the WSTA's 'Cut the Duty' campaign over the past few months and are therefore disappointed that the Chancellor has chosen not to cut duty on wine in line with beer, cider and spirits. However, we embrace the freezing of the duty rate and this means that the the many price reductions we have announced this year will not be eroded by yet another rise in duty. We now look forward to working closely with our customers to ensure that these improved prices convert into a real growth in their wine business over the coming year."


Bruce Ray, corporate affairs director for Northampton-based Carlsberg UK, said: "Today's 1p cut in beer duty is further tremendous news for Britain's brewers, publicans and everyone who enjoys a pint of beer in the pub. 

"It will support continued investment in jobs, innovation in new products and expansion from brewers, big and small.

"Through this investment brewers like ourselves are able to demonstrate the crucial social and economic contribution that we make to the UK, underlining what beer gives, rather than takes away, from our society.

"We truly appreciate this momentous third cut in beer duty by the Chancellor, which is testament to the valuable cross-industry work led by Andrew Griffiths MP." 

1.57 PM

David Forde, managing director of Heineken, said: "We are delighted that the Chancellor has delivered a historic hat-trick of duty cuts for beer and a cut to cider duty.This momentous result recognises that brewing, cider making and the great British pub are crucial to the UK's economy and will ensure that a hard earned pint remains affordable. Cheers Chancellor!"

2.02 PM

Ben Smith of CyT UK said: "It's good to see the Chancellor starting to acknowledge the huge contribution which the Drinks industry in this country makes to the economy. A freeze on wine duty is of course welcomed after the many years of seemingly inevitable annual tax hikes, and we particularly salute Miles Beale and his team at the WSTA for the way they have worked tirelessly to mobilise opinion in the industry's favour."

2.05 PM

Martin Thatcher, chair of the National Association of Cider Makers said: "We are delighted that the Chancellor has decided to support the British cider industry by cutting duty in his Budget Statement. This is a very welcome decision and proves the Government understands the huge importance of our industry to rural communities.

"This important decision will be celebrated by cider makers up and down the country as it protects the investment they have made over many years to grow the industry and support thousands of jobs. 

"We and all cider drinkers will be raising a glass of delicious cider to the Chancellor this evening."

2.06.  PM

Siobhan Thompson, chhief executive officer for Wines of South Africa said:

"We are relieved to hear that wine duty has been frozen and that ordinary consumers won't find it even more expensive to enjoy a glass of South African wine when tax and duty already make up a large portion of the cost of an average bottle of wine in the UK. It's a shame that after all the work put in by the UK trade and the Drop the Duty Campaign that wine wasn't afforded the same duty cuts that other alcoholic beverages were given."

2.12 PM

Denis O'Flynn, managing director of Pernod Ricard UK said: We are delighted that the Government has confirmed a 2% cut in duty for spirits. This small drop in duty is an important contribution in supporting jobs, growth and investment in the UK spirits industry.

"While it is disappointing that the UK's 30 million wine consumers did not receive a duty cut as well, we are pleased that the Chancellor has chosen to freeze wine duty at its current rate. This is certainly an improvement and a good first step.

"Pernod Ricard UK wishes to acknowledge and thank all the support from MPs and consumers who have supported the campaign to cut the duty.


Hal Wilson, md of Cambridge Wine Merchants, said: "Result! Campaign worked, not as much as we wanted, but in two years' joint campaigning the industry with WSTA leadership has changed policy."

"Beer, cider and Spirits make up 15% of our turnover so a reduction in duty is welcome and relieves the inflationary pressure on spirits particularly.

"Wine now delivers more tax to the treasury than either beer or spirits, even though consumption is falling. While it is good that duty did not rise, the decision to treat wine more meanly than beer or spirits is counterproductive. As the largest provider of revenue, it makes sense to boost demand for Wine rather than continue to treat it as a soft touch and maintain comparatively higher duty levels."

 3.46 PM

Robin Copestick, manging director of Copestick Murray said: "The fact that The Chancellor has frozen wine duty is a positive move for the UK wine trade. Apart from the obvious financial advantages it saves all areas of the trade an enormous amount of administrative work.

"This will allow us to concentrate on the key job of exciting our customers as well as making sure that wine is fun and accessible.

*Stay tuned to our website for further reaction to today's Budget, or follow @harperswine on Twitter. Let us know what impact this will have on your business by emailing Arabella Mileham or commenting below.

Miles Beale, WSTA CEO; and David Frost, his counterpart at the SWA, pictured at the launch of the Droip the Duty Campaign this morning