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Conservative Party members oppose wine tax hikes

Published:  09 August, 2022

According to new YouGov research, over three-quarters of Tory party members want tax on wine to be frozen at its current rate or reduced.

77% of those polled think the next chancellor should reduce (25%) or keep wine tax the same (52%). 

The survey suggests that Tory Party members, who will soon vote for the next prime minister, oppose the proposed taxation system on wine, which would see 95% of the UK’s most popular wines go up in price.

When asked if they opposed or supported increasing the duty on most still wines, 61% were against, compared to just 29% who said they would support a rise.

For wine, the former chancellor and Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak’s plans fail all three of his own stated aims of the alcohol duty review – to make it economically more rational, more straightforward and with less red tape.

The proposed plans to tax all alcohol by degree, announced in the Autumn Budget, would result in wine moving from three tax bands to 27 creating a new and complex administrative burden on thousands of UK businesses. All still wine over 11.5% abv will see a duty increase.

Miles Beale, CEO of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “It’s clear from this YouGov survey that raising taxes on wine and pushing up wine prices for cash-strapped consumers is not a popular proposition amongst the Conservative Party membership.

“Taxing wine by degree will push up the price of the nation’s favourite drink. However, the new chancellor could avoid this with a simple change: two bands for wine, taxed at the midpoint. This would be simple, workable, keep prices down for consumers, and ensure the UK market remains an attractive place to sell wine.

We hope the new PM and their chosen chancellor focus on reducing red tape and unnecessary tax hikes, showing they are in touch with UK consumers, who are already facing the worst cost of living crisis in decades.”

If introduced as set out last October, the duty would increase for 70% of all still and sparkling wine, 80% of all still wine, 93% of Australian wine, 95% red wine, and 100% fortified wine.

The YouGov survey showed that still and sparkling wine was – by some margin – their preferred drink of choice. Of those Conservative members polled that expressed a preference, 45% chose wine or sparkling wine as their favourite alcoholic drink. 28% of respondents said they preferred lager, real ale/bitter or craft beer and 23% spirits.

Under the current proposals, beer and cider will continue to be taxed significantly lower than wine and spirits. The proposed Small Producers Relief scheme – despite its name – will only apply for products under 8.5% abv. This threshold means that English and Welsh vineyards and UK distillers are barred from accessing the scheme and its benefits, leaving wine and spirit SMEs disadvantaged and dismayed.

The YouGov poll revealed that 80% of the Conservative members who responded supported a lower rate of wine duty for small producers in England and Wales.

The YouGov surveyed more than 1,000 Conservative party members across the UK.