Budget adds 11p to a bottle of wine
Any hopes of relief from rising alcohol duty were dashed when Chancellor George Osborne announced the 2% above inflation escalator mechanism would remain in place.
With the retail price index currently at 3.7%, the move will add around 11p to a bottle of wine, 13p to sparkling wine over 8.5% abv and 41p on a bottle of spirits, from March 26.
Beer will go up by around 3p a pint and cider by around 2p a litre.
The Chancellor caused widespread confusion by using the phrase “no change” in his speech, which was interpeted by many in the trade and media as meaning no change in duty, rather than no change in the existing policy to put duty up.
Osborne had additional bad news for convenience retailers with a 5% above inflation increase in tobacco duty, adding 37p to a pack of 20 cigarettes.
In a Budget that Osborne said “unashamedly backs business” the Chancellor wasted little time on the detail of drinks duty but made a point of flagging up the publication of a new government alcohol strategy next month, an indication that it will include the government’s plans to tackle harmful drinking through price manipulation.