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WSTA seeks independent retailers’ views on ending wine duty easement

Published:  29 May, 2024

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) is calling on independent retailers to participate in a brief survey regarding the scheduled end of the temporary wine duty easement next February. This measure, introduced in August 2023 as part of the government's alcohol duty review, allows wines with an alcohol content between 11.5% and 14.5% abv to be taxed at a standardised rate of 12.5% abv. Once the easement ends, wines will be taxed based on their actual alcoholic strength.

The survey aims to gather evidence on how this change will affect wine businesses, helping to shape the WSTA’s lobbying efforts regardless of the outcome of the upcoming general election on July 4.

Speaking at the London Wine Fair (LWF), Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, emphasised the importance of the UK's wine industry to the economy. He called for fair and proportional taxation and regulation, warning that hindering economic growth would impair the government’s ability to deliver on its promises.

“Of most immediate concern is making the temporary wine easement permanent, which should be resolved before the election,” Beale said. He also pushed for a fairer excise regime that treats wine and spirits equitably, eliminating biases favouring certain alcohol categories.

The announcement of the general election coincided with data showing no year-on-year increase in wine duty receipts since September 2023, despite a 20% duty hike for over 85% of wines on the UK market. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the alcoholic drinks Consumer Price Index (CPI) is nearly three times the headline rate of 2.3%, largely due to the record duty increases last August.

Beale also stressed the need for the industry to uphold social responsibility: “We need to demonstrate to an incoming government that we are a socially responsible and socially sustainable industry,” he said, encouraging the sector to enhance efforts in promoting responsible production, consumption, and retail of alcohol.

The survey is brief and can be accessed here.