WSTA urges Chancellor to support wine and spirit SMEs

UK-based wine and spirit SMEs have joined forces to urge the Chancellor to cut wine and spirit duty by 2% to help boost British business.

Owners of small and medium-sized wine and spirit businesses have jointly penned a letter to the new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, expressing their concerns over the lack of Government support for SMEs in the UK’s wine and spirit industry.

The band of British businesses united in calling for a duty cut includes England’s top vineyards, small distilleries and specialist wine merchants.

In the letter signed by 16 WSTA members (typical of the sector’s SMEs) – which make up the majority of the UK’s wine and spirit businesses – they highlight how their businesses would face significant pressures if Government carries through the increases it plans and raises duty by 2.2%.

The WSTA’s latter warns the Chancellor that this significant tax burgen is damaging enterprice.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “This Budget comes at a crucial time when the trade is facing upheaval as the new trading landscape unfolds. By cutting wine and spirit duty the Chancellor would be allowing British business to invest and grow.

“Duty rises are bad for consumers, bad for British SMEs – which are the backbone of this successful British industry – and also bad for the Exchequer, as the Government’s latest figures clearly show. After wine was singled out for a duty rise wine revenues have fallen on the previous year, in line with a slump in wine sales.

“If Government chooses to increase what are already some of the world’s highest alcohol tax rates, it will not only push up prices for people who voted them in, but will also hit hard an SME-heavy industry that prides itself on flying the flag for brand Britain.”

Karl Mason, founder and director of Masons Yorkshire Gin, said: “We’d like to congratulate our local MP, Rishi Sunak, as he takes up his new role as Chancellor. Mr Sunak recently visited our distillery and was keen to hear how we managed to rebuild our business after a devastating fire destroyed the old distillery last year. We are extremely proud of what we have achieved to date and with more government support our family run gin distillery can go from strength to strength. To allow us to further invest and grow we urge the new Chancellor to cut our excessively high duty rates at the Budget next month.”

The UK is the world’s largest spirit exporter and a great British success story. In 2018 Britain recorded a total of 361 distilleries, more than double the number of distilleries recorded in 2013, and the equivalent of one distillery opening a week.

Britain has “an ambitious and rapidly growing” wine industry, the WSTA said, and there are now over 650 vineyards in the UK with more than 150 open to the public. Last year saw a record-breaking number of vines planted. 

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