Budget date set for March 12

The drinks trade will find out on March 12 whether duty on alcohol will rise as sharply as predicted after the Treasury confirmed the date today.

Officials from the Treasury warned the Wine & Spirit Trade Association to expect a tough budget when it submitted its 2008 budget report.

Many fear the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling will be pressured to raise taxes as the UK faces economic uncertainty.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said yesterday he would need raise taxes by £8 billion to keep public sector debt below the government's self-imposed level over the coming five years.

The WSTA predicts that duty on drink will increase above inflation, although it is continuing to lobby for a duty freeze.

In the latest edition of OLN, suppliers and retailers said duty increases were a huge concern and would have a serious impact on the industry.