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Scotch Whisky fuels the UK by £5.5bn

Published:  30 April, 2019

Scotch Whisky now contributes £5.5billion to the UK economy, up 10% since 2016, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The report, which builds on research carried out by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), also said Scotch generates two-thirds of all spirits Gross Value Added (GVA) in the UK. Exports have also hit record numbers, reaching £4.7 billion in 2018, and several new distilleries have opened.

“This research shows the Scotch Whisky industry’s huge contribution to both the Scottish and UK economies,” said Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA. “Significantly, the research shows that our industry’s GVA increased by 10% to £5.5 billion between 2016 and 2018, as a result of Scotch Whisky companies’ continued export success and the industry’s consistent investment at home – with over £500 million going into production, distribution, marketing and tourism in the last 5 years.”

Betts added “despite the challenges of Brexit, this investment continues to flow, with further projects planned and more distilleries set to open – a sign that the Scotch Whisky industry remains confident about the future. This is great news for our many employees, our investors, our supply chain and, of course, for consumers all over the world who love Scotch".

She also pointed out the high rate of domestic tax that Scotch Whisky faces in the UK. "In the US, Scotch and other whiskies are taxed at just 27% of the rate that HM Treasury taxes us here at home. We will continue to press the Chancellor for fairer treatment for Scotch Whisky in our domestic market, which reflects the vital economic contribution the industry makes to the UK economy every day.”

The report also highlighted the contribution it makes to Scotland. It said Scotch Whisky provides £3.8 billion in direct GVA to Scotland, and delivers more than 42,000 jobs across the UK, including 10,500 people directly in Scotland, and 7,000 in rural communities.

It also said Scotch played a “crucial role” in driving productivity across Scotland, producing £210,505 GVA per employee.

“I’m delighted to see how this important sector is thriving,” said exchequer secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick MP. “We are supporting the Scotch Whisky success story by freezing duty on spirits again this year. Our record of reductions and freezes to alcohol duties have provided more than £4 billion of support to the drinks sector here in the UK.”

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing MSP said he welcomed the "contribution that the Scotch Whisky industry makes to the Scottish Economy. The industry's performance is testament to the hard work of those who work in this important sector, making Scotch Whisky one of Scotland's greatest global exports."