WSTA pleads for duty break

15 February, 2013

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association has pressed the government for an end to the duty escalator on alcohol and closer co-operation on deregulation and tax fraud.

WSTA officers met Treasury minister Sajid Javid to put the industry’s case ahead of the Budget on March 20.

The escalator – which automatically increases drinks tax by 2% ahead of the rate of inflation – is on course to increase duty by 5% this year.

This would mean that, since its introduction in 2008, wine duty will have increased by 50%, spirits tax by 44% and beer by 42%.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “Few British businesses have been hampered as much as those in the wine and spirits sector over recent years.

“As if the current trading environment wasn’t challenging enough, WSTA members have been buffeted by a combination of alcohol and fuel duty escalators, rising costs of raw materials and a regressive alcohol strategy that threatens suffocation by red tape.

“As we are facing a triple-dip reces- sion, the Treasury should be looking to ease the regulatory and tax burdens on an industry that already contributes some £16 billion to the public purse and supports close to 2 million jobs. We are calling on the government to take a different approach and to encourage growth and job creation in the industry.”

The British Beer & Pub Association has produced a film to help make the case for a freeze on beer duty in the Budget.

The film is presented by beer writer Marverine Cole and features interviews with industry leaders and MPs at Westminster and a visit to Adnams brewery in Suffolk.

Bridget Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “The 42% tax rise we have endured since 2008 is unsustainable. It is vital we get the message across that a change of government policy could really boost investment and jobs – without putting a dent in government revenues.”

Latest figures from the BBPA’s Beer Barometer survey suggest take-home volume sales of beer dropped 7.5% in the final quarter of 2012, against the corresponding period a year before. Sales for the year were down 4.6%.

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