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WSTA pens letter to Chancellor opposing alcohol duty u-turn

Published:  15 November, 2022

Over 100 business executives from across the alcohol industry have signed a letter written to the Times calling on the Chancellor to bring back the freeze on alcohol duty.

The letter published today, Tuesday, 15 November comprises a total of 116 signatories, as the industry braces itself for a double-digit tax rise following the Autumn Budget this week.

Announced on 17 October as part of sweeping U-turns on the recent government mini-budget, the reversal of the freeze, which was to last a year from 1 February 2023, has been billed as saving the Treasury around £600m a year.

However, industry organisations including the WSTA have challenged the reversal, arguing that the added tax burden will be both disruptive and unproductive for drinks trade and Treasury alike.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “This could not have come at a worse time for the alcohol trade with bars and restaurants, producers and suppliers still reeling from pandemic lockdowns and having to manage ever-increasing costs and global supply chain issues.

“Cash-strapped consumers will be picking up the bill with prices of their favourite drinks set to soar next year. We are calling on Jeremy Hunt to throw us a lifeline, there is still time to bring back the duty freeze.

“History has shown that freezing alcohol duty does not negatively impact on Treasury coffers, over the past five years during a stable period for alcohol duty, government income from taxing alcohol has increased by 18% – because of, not despite, duty freezes.”

The u-turn was described as a “huge blow” by the British Beer and Pub Association, which said the reversal would now add an additional £300m in costs to an already hard-pressed sector, with UK Hospitality also adding its voice to those describing it as an “unfair burden”.

The letter published in The Times could be found here.