Chancellor cuts duty on beer, cider and spirits

18 March, 2015

The Chancellor announced a duty cut on beer, cider and spirits in today’s Budget speech.

Duty on wine will be frozen, while spirits and cider will enjoy a 2% cut, and a penny will be taken off a pint of beer for the third year running.

George Osborne praised Andrew Griffiths MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, for strong lobbying that earned the previous two duty cuts on beer.

He said Griffiths and the group has assured him another cut was vital for supporting 16,000 jobs, and he took another penny off a pint.  

“More pubs saved, jobs created, families supported, and a penny off a pint for the third year in a row,” said Osborne.

He added that 2% cuts on cider and spirits would support West Country cider producers and the economic powerhouse that is the Scotch whisky industry.

Mike Benner, managing director at the Society of Independent Brewers, said: “This is a great day for British independent brewers, pubs and consumers.

“We applaud the Chancellor’s decision to support British beer with this historic third cut in beer duty.  

“It continues the momentum of the cuts in 2013 and 2014 and will boost growth, employment and investment in the independent brewing sector.

“In SIBA’s Budget 2015 submission, we showed the positive impact of the first two cuts on our member brewers, who have invested the ‘penny off the pint’ in their businesses. The Government can be confident that this third concession will be put to the same good use by Britain’s independent brewers, bringing jobs and investment to hundreds of local economies around the country.”

Camra chief executive Tim Page said: “A third cut in beer tax is a huge vote of confidence in the importance of pubs and brewing. It will help ensure the sector returns to long term growth after many years of pub closures and falling beer sales, caused in part by a 42% beer tax increase between 2008 and 2012, and throw a lifeline to struggling community pubs across the country.

“Britain is known around the world for great pubs and real ale, and we should all be incredibly proud that this industry has just reported growth for the first time in a decade. We hope Britain’s millions of pub goers will head to their local this evening to give three cheers to a historic third cut in beer tax.”

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “This is a historic decision and only the fourth time whisky duty has been cut in a century. 

“The Chancellor’s announcement will be toasted across the whisky industry and by consumers who are getting a fairer deal on tax when they have a drink of Scotch.

“The move is a major boost to our industry as we look to grow again in the UK, and equally sends out an important signal on fair taxation to our export markets.  

“The industry is raising a glass to George Osborne and his Treasury team, as well as to all those who have supported our campaign over the last two decades.”

Martin Thatcher, chair of the National Association of Cider Makers, said: “This is a very welcome decision and proves the Government understands the huge importance of our industry to rural communities.

“This decision will be celebrated by cider makers up and down the country as it protects the investment they have made over many years to grow the industry and support thousands of jobs.”

Miles Beale, chief executive at the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, added: “We are delighted that the Government has listened to consumers and taken action to address the UK’s excessive spirit duty rates. This small drop in duty will result in a big cheer for the UK’s 24m spirit consumers.

“We are grateful to those MPs who listened to their constituents and supported our campaign and hope that all parties are able to support the measures outlined today and build on them in the next Parliament.

“We campaigned for a cut in duty across all products and are disappointed that the UK’s 30 million wine consumers did not receive a duty cut too. But freezing wine duty is an improvement and a first step towards supporting wine businesses that are looking to invest in the UK, create jobs and back British pubs.”

Suppliers reacted with delight to the news. 

Molson Coors managing director Frederic Landtmeters said: “Today’s announcement that beer duty will be cut for the third consecutive year is historic, and a move warmly welcomed by Molson Coors.

“As an industry which contributes £10 billion in taxation each year, it is great to see that the Government continues to recognise just how important the beer and pub industry is to the wider economy.

“The successive duty cuts have not only given a much needed boost to beer drinkers across the UK, but have helped the wider industry benefit from extra investments – including over 16,000 new jobs created within the sector. We hope that the Government to continues to work in partnership with our industry to build on these successes.”

Diageo boss Andrew Cowan said: “Thousands of people across the nation will this evening raise a happy toast to the Chancellor.

“The alcohol industry generates billions for the economy and flies the flag for the UK abroad. This cut will mean that a 400 year historic industry like Scotch whisky will remain a crucial, and vibrant, part of the British economy for many more years to come.”

Pernod Ricard managing director Denis O’Flynn, who is chaiman at the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said: “This small drop in duty is an important contribution in supporting jobs, growth and investment in the UK spirits industry.

“While it is disappointing that the UK’s 30 million wine consumers did not receive a duty cut as well, we are pleased that the Chancellor has chosen to freeze wine duty at its current rate.  This is certainly an improvement and a good first step.”

Heineken managing director Nigel Pollard said: “This momentous result recognises that brewing, cider making and the great British pub are crucial to the UK’s economy and will ensure that a hard earned pint remains affordable.”

Rob Theakston, managing director of Black Sheep Brewery, said: “This keeps the momentum going from the last two Budgets, and it is great news for the beer industry.”

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “A third successive cut in beer duty is a fantastic result for the entire industry.

“It will help stimulate further jobs, investment and growth in a sector that is quick to respond to economic stimuli.

“It is our hope that whichever party is in government after the election, they continue to recognise beer and pubs’ contribution to the UK.”




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