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Miles Beale speaks out against the government’s £300m tax increase on wine

Published:  23 May, 2022

As the latest Wine Drinkers UK communique suggests, taxing alcohol is set to cost the wine industry an estimated £300 million and push up prices for UK consumers, without bringing any significant boost to Treasury funds.

In a video shared on the Wine Drinkers UK Twitter account, Miles Beale, CEO of WSTA, criticised Rishi Sunak’s autumn budget, in which the chancellor announced a complete overhaul of the UK alcohol taxation system that was supposedly fairer, more straightforward and with less red tape.

Beale said: “The chancellor’s plans will introduce more red tape, will mean higher prices for consumers and with no significant increases for Treasury income. 

“Currently, wine is subject to three tax bands – still, sparkling and fortified. Now we're all delighted that the chancellor has agreed to scrap the super tax on sparkling wine, but in its place he has introduced a system which will impose 27 different amounts per bottle, depending on strength.”

The plans for alcohol duty reform are due to come into effect in February 2023 and look to tax alcohol by degree – a change which will introduce 27 bands for alcohol across categories, thus adding to the inflationary pot for the wine sector.

The UK is currently the world’s largest spirit exporter and a global hub for wine, with Britain the second-largest importer of wine in the world. Wine is also the most popular alcoholic drink in the UK, ahead of beer and spirits.

Beale added: “It threatens the future of hundreds of British SMEs. The chancellor has got this wrong. The policy is unworkable in practice, financially illiterate and it will damage the SME-rich wine industry. We're not asking for a tax cut or a handout. Just the freedom to grow, increase trade and to prosper.

“The solution; stick with two bands taxed at the midpoint. This would be simple, workable, and would meet [Sunak's] own three tests.”