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Miles Beale: how you can help secure a 2% cut in alcohol duty

Published:  16 January, 2015

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, sets out the steps everyone involved in the UK drinks industry can play their part in convincing the Chancellor to a 2% drop in alcohol duty in the forthcoming Budget

Miles BealeMiles Beale

With the New Year already well under way, I can think of at least one important resolution that I am determined to keep - calling for the government to 'Drop the Duty' on wine and spirits by 2% in the upcoming Budget.

With just nine weeks to go before the Budget and the election only months away, we now have the perfect opportunity to make a positive case about the huge and growing contribution that our great industry makes to a successful UK economy.

Although the sector had successes in 2014, particularly in helping to secure the end of the alcohol duty escalator and a spirits duty freeze in the 2014 Budget, the wine and spirits industry is still having to work within a duty system that places unnecessary burdens on producers, distributors and consumers.

WSTA Drop the DutyDrop the Duty

Our 'Drop the Duty!' campaign, launched in partnership with the Scotch Whisky Association and the TaxPayers' Alliance, aims to go some way to solving this by calling for the Chancellor to make a modest 2% cut in alcohol duty. To highlight the importance of this, we took over a pub in Central London showing exactly what your local would look like if the Chancellor was in charge.

We've also got the figures to prove that a 2% drop in duty would bring major benefits to the UK economy. Recent analysis undertaken by EY has found that a modest 2% cut in duty on wine and spirits this year would lead to an additional 24,500 jobs across the sector. This not only allows the industry to continue to flourish, enabling producers to invest and expand their businesses, but will also boost the UK economy more broadly - generating an additional £1.5 billion for the public finances.

As we all know, this is not just an issue for the health of the wine and spirits industry. Consumers are also being unfairly hit by the current duty system. In the UK we pay almost 60% tax on a bottle of wine and almost 80% on a bottle of whisky or gin.  Remarkably, wine duty hasn't had a cut since 1984 - the same year that Wham were topping the charts with 'Wake me up before you Go-Go' and George Osborne was celebrating his 13th birthday.

So, ahead of George Osborne standing up at the Dispatch Box on 18 March, we will be campaigning hard for this change by highlighting how a modest drop in alcohol duty would lead to a significant increase in economic activity across the wine and spirits sector.

Please help us to spread the word about the campaign by emailing your MP on our campaign website and asking them to urge the Chancellor to cut alcohol duty by 2%. Last year's successful campaign shows that your email can make a difference.

Here's hoping that we will celebrating at least one completed New Year's resolution by giving George a big cheer for dropping duty on Budget day!