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Broadcaster Helena Nicklin slams alcohol duty hikes as sexist

Published:  27 January, 2022

A member of the Amazon Prime series Three Drinkers has condemned Rishi Sunak’s proposed changes to the duty system as “punishing female consumers”, highlighting that wine is the most popular alcoholic drink among women in the UK.

Under the proposed framework unveiled by the Chancellor in 2021, the government will slap higher duty rates on wines with an alcohol level above 11.5% abv, following the Alcohol Duty Review. This means around 80% of all still wines consumed in the UK will become more expensive, whilst taxes on all the best-selling beer brands will remain static – or even go down in some instances.

Research carried out by Wine Drinkers UK, a collection of wine lovers, makers, and sellers, revealed that 43% of women drinkers list wine as their favourite alcoholic drink with only 7% listing beer. For men the order is reversed with 44% of drinkers listing beer as their favourite drink compared to 21% who said wine.

Broadcaster and Wine Drinkers UK supporter, Helena Nicklin, commented: “Wine is the UK’s most popular alcoholic drink but the Chancellor’s proposed changes to the alcohol duty regime will drive up the price of wine and potentially limit consumer choice. At the same time, duty on beer will stay the same.”

She added: “This is a double whammy for women who are more likely to choose to wind down with a glass of wine than a pint of beer. It is especially unfair at a time when so many ordinary people are struggling to cope with the cost of living. Why should women see the cost of their favourite tipple go up in price when men see theirs stay the same?”

Since 2010, it is estimated wine drinkers have paid £5.9 billion more in duty than beer drinkers, with women almost twice as likely to choose wine than men (58% versus 31%).

The duty changes have been widely criticised by the UK trade. As reported by Harpers, Concha y Toro described the proposals as a regressive step, arguing that “the Chancellor is proposing that we use Brexit freedoms to tax consumers’ favourite alcoholic beverage even more. These proposals are both unfair on consumers and unworkable for the trade”.