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Wine companies join forces to call for wine duty freeze

Published:  15 November, 2017

UK wine businesses have joined forces to call for a freeze to wine duty at the Budget next week. 

A total of 21 businesses (see below) have signed a letter written by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) calling for Chancellor Philip Hammond to scrap planned tax rises and back the industry, which supports over 277,000 UK jobs.

In March, the Chancellor increased wine duty by 3.9%, which added 8p to a bottle of still wine and 10p to sparkling, with the Chancellor now planning to increase wine duty again by 3.4% adding another 7p to still and 9p on sparkling.

The industry body accused the government of “sneaky inflationary increases” as part of policy plans to raise wine duties by 3% for every year of this Parliament.This, it said, would mean the industry would be hit with an additional £1.2 billion in new duty collections by 2022.

The WSTA market report to be released next month is set to show a 22p increase on the average price of a bottle of wine to £5.62 this quarter, compared to the same period last year. This is a 4.2% increase on last year already, before the planned 7p rise in the Budget next week.

“These hugely unfair tax burdens mean that cash flow is severely restricted and stifles growth for everyone in our industry,” said John Charnock, managing partner at Jascots wine merchants.

“We absolutely support a freeze to wine duty, particularly as this is an opportunistic second increase this year and comes at a time the government knows that alcohol sales increase considerably over the festive period.”

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, called for the Government to put a “cork” in the planned wine and spirit hikes.

“A second rise this year will hit businesses hard at a time when they are dealing with higher costs through rising inflation, meeting the challenge of Brexit and decreasing consumer confidence,” he said, adding this would be particularly hard for the industry to swallow, coming in the middle of the trade’s busiest period – Christmas.

In France duty is the equivalent of just 7p a bottle for sparkling and 3p for still.

According to WSTA the UK wine industry is the third most heavily taxed in Europe after Finland and Ireland, with Brits paying 68.37% of all wine duties in the EU, by far the most of any member state despite accounting for only 11% of the total EU population.

The 21 signatures are:

Fergal Tynan at Alliance Wine

Dan Jago at Berry Bros & Rudd

Julian Dyer at Australian Vintage

Paul Schaafsma at Broadland Wineries

Duncan Brown at Brown Brothers

Craig Durham at Buckingham Schenk

Simon Lawson at Casella Brands

Simon Doyle at Concha y Toro

Diana Hunter at Conviviality Plc

Richard Cochrane & Angus Jones at Felix Solis

Mark Symonds at Fells

Patrick MacGrath at Hatch Mansfield

Miles Maclnnes & John Charnock at Jascots

Will Oatley at Louis Latour

Paul Lethern at Off-Piste Wines

Laurent Pillet at Pernod Ricard UK

Simon Halliday at Raisin Social

Tom King at Treasury Wine Estates

Andrew Baker at Virgin Wines

Nicholas Hyde at Vranken Pommery

Jo Wehring at Wines of South Africa