WSTA bites back

04 April, 2008

I write in response to Steve Barton's letter of March 21 regarding the Budget and the totally unjust onslaught the industry is receiving from the BMA, other anti-alcohol lobbyists and certain sections of the media and the negative impact on the wine and spirit industry.

Steve's lack of comprehension as to just how much has been done by Jeremy Beadles and the whole of the WSTA team is apparent. If he knew just how much had been done he wouldn't have even thought, let alone asked, Jeremy to "stand aside".

I share his disappointment, but it could have been much worse. Just prior to the pre-Budget report last October there were strong rumours "we" were heading for a 30% increase on wine duty - we have been told to swallow a 9.2% increase on wine, beer, spirits and cider. This by a Chancellor who is trying to manage inflation at below 3% per annum.

What is most concerning, allowing for cost and duty increases, is that wine is likely to rise on average 30p-50p a bottle in the next year and this will almost certainly drive the wine category into negative growth and probably negative tax earnings for the Treasury. An interesting economic policy.

The WSTA Budget strategy this year has focused on the consumer and anticipating the Chancellor would use the March Budget to raise alcohol duties. The WSTA commissioned extensive consumer polling research with ICM and presented the results to journalists and politicians during January and February.

Using one of your own suggestions, labelled bottles spelling out levels of tax on an average bottle of wine were sent to 20 journalists on national newspapers.

On Budget Day the WSTA did live interviews for BBC TV and Sky TV which were circulated throughout UK media by Press Association and was widely quoted in all press the day after the Budget.

These are just some of the facts/actions and many more can be listed.

I suggest Steve joins forces with the industry leaders of associations and:

a) Helps set the record straight by ensuring that the facts are quoted by the media and our foes - not the out-of-date figures which "serve to suit "

b) Helps to promote the social responsibility agenda

c) Gets involved with his local MPs so that they understand the industry issues.

If Steve - or anyone else for that matter - wants to know to what extent and just how many issues the WSTA is tackling on behalf of its members they can attend our conference on April 23 or contact the WSTA office.

No, Steve - an erroneous call.

Chris Carson

Chairman

WSTA




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