Speculation over bigger duty rises

09 March, 2007

Chancellor Gordon Brown makes his latest - and possibly final - Budget speech on Wednesday, March 21, and there are fears that duty increases may be bigger than in previous years.

Predictions about Budget announcements are notoriously unreliable, but some sources in the wine trade believe that an inflationary increase on wine - which has been the norm in recent years - is more likely to equate to 5p a bottle instead of the familiar 4p.

There is also speculation that spirits, which have been left untouched for nine successive Budgets, may finally have to face up to a tax increase. If that happens, it could prompt an above-inflation duty increase on wine because of the government's policy to bring the two categories into line with one another.

The booming cider market could also catch the Chancellor's eye after five years of escaping duty increases.

WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles presented the association's Budget submission to Treasury minister John Healey on March 2. Beadles was joined by Christopher Carson of Constellation Europe, Majestic chief executive Tim How and Beam UK managing director Adrian ­McKeon. The WSTA has asked for wine duty changes to be announced in the pre-Budget report, and called for a freeze in rates for wine, fortified wine and spirits.

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