SWA to renew calls for duty freeze on Scotch
Published:  15 February, 2008

The Scotch Whisky Association will tell the Treasury next week why freezing duty on spirits in the next budget is "crucial" to safeguard the future of the industry.

The Scotch Whisky Association will tell the Treasury next week why freezing duty on spirits in the next Budget is "crucial" to safeguard the future of the industry.

SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt will discuss the association's 2008 Budget submission at a meeting with Treasury Secretary Angela Eagle next Wednesday.

A 10-year duty freeze on spirits and a government under pressure to find a solution to anti-social binge drinking, has led to speculation that the Chancellor, Alastair Darling will be hiking up duty on all alcohol when he announces the Budget on March 12.

However, David Williamson of the SWA said increasing duty on Scotch would be "ineffective and unjustified" because duty already makes up more than 71 per cent of the price of whisky.

He said: "Alcohol duty in the UK is among the highest in the world, so if high duty rates were the solution we wouldn't be having these problems.

"That's not to say the industry is not making efforts to tackle alcohol misuse, but what we really need are effective measures to tackle what are complex cultural issues in the UK."

Williamson said freezing duty on Scotch whisky over the past 10 years had enabled the industry to invest in distilling, housing and bottling which had led to growth both domestically and overseas.

"That investment has been good for the Scottish economy and we want to maintain that," he said.

"In his meeting Gavin will also be explaining to the Treasury that a duty rise would come at a time when the industry is facing rises in raw material and energy costs."

In its 2008 Budget submission to the Treasury, sent earlier this month, the Wine & Spirit Trade Association warned that raising tax on alcohol would hurt both the economy and the Treasury because consumption among sensible drinkers would decrease.

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