WSTA calls on Hammond to freeze duty in November Budget

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association is calling for a freeze on wine and spirit duty in the Budget on November 22 to bolster British businesses and Brexit trade deal opportunities.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond is expected to increase duty by an inflationary rise of 3.4%, the second Budget duty increase of the year, as the Government moves its main fiscal announcement from spring to autumn.

Hammond raised all alcohol duties by 3.9% in March, which added 8p to an average priced bottle of wine and 30p to a bottle of spirits.

The WSTA said the November Budget could add another 7p to the price of a bottle of wine and 26p on spirits just a month before Christmas.

It said a second hike in duty would cause concern for UK wine importers who fear the duty regime will hamper trade negotiations and damage future investment.

Ade McKeon, general manager for the UK and Ireland at Accolade Wines, said: “We want government to take a reasonable approach to excise and not impose a second excise duty increase this year.

“Since the referendum, Accolade has had to face a combination of serious challenges in the UK.  

“As an international wine company we have to consider our investment decisions carefully. We are hoping to see the Chancellor, our local MP, send us a positive message on November 22 by freezing alcohol duty.” 

The WSTA said an inflationary rise in November could cost the wine and spirit industry around £220 million in new tax liabilities.

Chief executive Miles Beale said: “Don’t be fooled into thinking that when the Chancellor announces no change to alcohol duty plans that he is doing everyone a favour.

“No change means that duty on all alcohol will rise in line with RPI inflation which in March meant a rise of 3.9%. 

“Next month we are set to see yet another 3.4% added to the staggering amount British consumers already pay in wine and spirit duty.

“Whether it’s English vineyards, new start up distilleries, producers, distributors or retailers, there are hundreds of British businesses that will be hit hard by another such increase.

“By freezing duty the Government can support British businesses and consumers and even help to increase revenue to the Exchequer.”