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The SWA issues final call for cut in duty

Published:  06 March, 2017

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has issued a final call for a 2% cut in spirits excise duty ahead of this week's Budget.

Cutting the 77% tax on Scotch Whisky in the Budget on Wednesday would benefit the public purse, as well as boost the industry and consumers, said the SWA, adding the industry created £5bn annually for the economy - supporting more than 40,000 jobs - and was the largest net contributor to the UK's balance of trade in goods.

By "Standing up for Scotch", Chancellor Philip Hammond MP would add to Treasury coffers, based on government figures showing a positive revenue impact following a duty cut, said acting chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird.

"A 2% cut would create confidence in the UK market for Scotch, which is starting to grow again, and give welcome relief to consumers paying 77% tax on an average priced bottle of Scotch."

A "fairer and more competitive" domestic tax regime was essential to provide a platform for future growth in the context of Brexit, she added.

"On Wednesday, the Chancellor has the opportunity to demonstrate his support for a strategically important industry, underpinning jobs in Scotland and across our UK wide supply chain."

Last year, spirits excise was frozen, following on from a historic 2% cut in 2015 - only the fourth time in the last century that duty on Scotch had been cut. Revenue from spirits duty increased by 4.2% (£132m) last year to £3.25bn, according to new figures from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), with spirits revenue accounting for 56% of total alcohol income growth, which was up 2.2%,(£132m), to £10.9bn.

The HMRC data also revealed the number of bottles of Scotch released for sale in the UK in 2016 increased by 2.7% to 87 million last year marking the second consecutive year of growth in the home market following previous years of decline.

The market however is still smaller than it was ten years ago with 101 million bottles of Scotch released for sale in the UK in 2006.