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Trade bodies "disappointed" by the Chancellor's decision not to cut alcohol duties

Published:  08 March, 2017

The Chancellor's decision not to cut duties on alcohol and tobacco has been meet with dismay by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association.

The Chancellor's decision not to cut duties on alcohol has been meet with dismay by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The decision for wine and spirit duty to rise by deflation, revealed today as part of the Spring Budget 2017, was "disappointing", said WSTA chief executive Miles Beale.

"The Chancellor has failed to support a great British industry. He has increased what were already excessive and unfairly high rates of duty for the UK's wine and spirit consumers and businesses," said Beale, adding between Brexit's impact on the pound and rising inflation the wine and spirit businesses faced a "tough trading landscape".

He said the added uncertainty of another Budget in six months' time was unwelcome and would further undermine business, and consumer, confidence.

Ahead of the Budget, WSTA had been calling on the Chancellor to cut wine and spirit duty by 2%, which it said would "benefit our industry, the consumer and boost Treasury coffers - just as it did two years ago."

"The Chancellor has missed an opportunity to back British business and help out struggling consumers."

The decision also came as a blow to the SWA, which issued a final call for a 2% cut in excise duty at the beginning of this week.

Cutting the 77% tax on Scotch Whicky in the Budget would have benefitted the public purse, as well as boost the industry and consumers, said acting chied executive Julie Hesketh-Laird, adding the industry created £5bn annually for the economy - supporting more than 40,000 jobs - and was the largets net contributor to the UK's balance of trade in goods.

A 2% cut would have created confidence in the UK market for Scotch, which has started to grow again, she said.

The SWA said it was time for a "fundamental review" of the alcohol duty system, describing the move as damaging to a major industry and at odds with the Prime Minister's words during a speech in Glasgow last week, where she described Scotch Whisky as "a truly great Scottish and British industry".