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SWA calls on government to continue duty freeze

Published:  10 September, 2018

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has called on the UK government to support the industry at home through a continued duty freeze in the Autumn Budget.

The plea follows a poll (commissioned by the industry body) that showed nearly three in four Scots (71 %) believe tax on Scotch Whisky in the UK should be at least as competitive as European taxes on flagship food and drink products.

With Scotland’s national drink currently taxed 76% higher than the EU average for spirits, £3 of every £4 spent on the average priced bottle of Scotch Whisky in the UK goes directly to the Treasury in taxation.

Evidence showed that a continued freeze would not only deliver greater revenue for the Treasury, but also help to support an industry that has invested more than £500 million in capital projects over the last five years, said SWA chief executive Karen Betts.

“It is inconceivable France would hamstring its wine industry through heavy taxation. Yet, despite Scotch Whisky generating billions in revenue for the economy, employing thousands of people, and attracting millions of tourists every year, it remains among the most taxed food and drink products in Europe,” she said.

The freeze on spirits excise duty announced by the Chancellor in November 2017 has delivered £1.6 billion for the Treasury in the period February to July – a 7.5% (£114 million) increase on revenues during the same period in 2017.

At the end of June, the SWA called for zero tariffs on imports of whisky making materials in the Brexit negotiations.

In the call to the UK government for “unfettered” access to the EU market, the SWA said it wanted glass, cork and cereal imports from the EU to be tariff-free post-Brexit.