Chief executive Miles Beale told the WSTA’s annual conference that industry-government partnerships on social responsibility issues and last year’s successful campaign to do away with the duty escalator meant the WSTA was now seen a “a reliable partner that can deliver results”.
He said the industry should seek to capitalise on its mounting credibility by pushing for a duty cut of up to 2% in a campaign that will “free the shackles” and support growth.
“We have an opportunity to make the case for a rebalancing of the duty system,” said Beale, “and we are in a far better position than we were 12 months ago to build on this progress.”
He urged members to court their local MPs, and said the WSTA would have a dedicated campaign website for people to email their representatives directly, spelling out the 500,000 jobs the wine and spirit industry contributes to the economy and that UK consumers currently pay 38.8% of all alcohol duty paid by consumers in major European markets.
“English wine producers are best-placed to make the best argument we have against the unfairness of the current duty system,” said Beale.
“Independent wine merchants are also a uniquely local and entrepreneurial voice to which local MPs will be instinctively drawn.”
Beale added that the WSTA would be devising its own industry manifesto with which to lobby MPs and parties before the election.
“The WSTA will be concentrating on setting out its views to UK political parties in an effort to influence the development of their manifestoes, with evidence, ideas and support.
“It will be our own election manifesto – and we are talking to members about its content.
“We will be clear about what we can offer government and the benefits of partnership working, and clear about the support we need to meet the industry’s full potential.”