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SLTA issues call for ‘level playing field’ in pubs and supermarkets duty

Published:  27 October, 2021

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) is calling on the Government to overhaul the alcohol excise duty system and introduce new measures that would create a differential between alcohol sold in pubs and supermarkets.

The SLTA believes that cutting duty in pubs and bars and raising it for off-trade sales would help sustain the licensed trade as it fights back from the pandemic.

The idea was first suggested by former Scottish justice minister and SNP MP Kenny MacAskill.

The trade group said it backed the idea and said such a scheme would enable on-trade businesses to claim a duty rebate which would be offset by a higher rate of duty charged on alcohol sales in supermarkets in order to make it ‘revenue neutral’.

Paul Waterson, SLTA spokesperson, said: “Reducing alcohol duty in our pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs would boost hard-pressed licensees who are still not trading at full tilt as they build back from the pandemic.

“Research from the Social Market Foundation in 2019 showed that this could be ‘revenue neutral’ to the Treasury with its analysis setting out how reforms to alcohol duty could boost UK pub sales by 100m pints a year, providing a lifeline to the hospitality industry and help reduce harmful drinking.”

Waterson said that unlike the on-trade, supermarkets and other retailers selling alcohol had benefited from remaining open throughout the pandemic while pubs and bars were forced to shut down.

“This is a real opportunity to create a level playing field for the hospitality industry as a duty rebate would be passed directly to pub and bar owners and go a long way to helping the industry come back to life now that the furlough scheme has ended and businesses are working hard to regain their viability,” he added.