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WSTA and SMEs call on Chancellor for further support in budget

Published:  21 January, 2021

Many of the UK’s best known wine and spirit SMEs have written a joint letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to cut duty while extended the hospitality’s VAT cut to provide further relief for those struggling with the pandemic.

Both hospitality operators and their suppliers continue to take a massive hit around the UK, as lockdowns continue to see shuttered businesses on the back of varying degrees of restricted operation for the duration of the crisis.

Asking the Chancellor for further “breathing space” to keep businesses afloat in his coming budget, the WSTA members’ letter also highlights that “suppliers of the hospitality trade have not been eligible to benefit from the loans and support packages offered by Government to pubs, bars and restaurants”.

The WSTA and its members said they had “decided to write an open letter to the Chancellor asking for a vital lifeline in the shape of a cut to alcohol duty on wines and spirits, and to extend the VAT hospitality cut” until March 2022, to include all sales of alcoholic drinks.

The letter also highlighted that “the UK’s already significant tax burden is damaging enterprise”.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “This Budget comes at a crucial time for British wine and spirit SMEs who have had to baton down the hatches once again as the country sits out a third lockdown without any confidence in knowing when it might end.

“The new and developing trading landscape since 1 January has also put pressure on small and medium size businesses who are picking up the tab for additional import costs and red tape.

“SMEs have worked hard, despite drastic dips to their income, to support communities through efforts like making hand sanitiser and free local deliveries. Britain has some of the world’s highest alcohol tax rates, and it is extremely unfair to pass on more pain to cash strapped consumers and to SMEs fighting to keep their businesses afloat.”