Chancellor George Osborne lauds drinks industry

Chancellor George Osborne hailed the impact the drinks industry is having on the UK’s economic recovery after meeting with WSTA chief executive Miles Beale.

Osborne was presented with a framed message of gratitude for finally scrapping the duty escalator in the last Budget.

Osborne and Beale – number two and three in OLN’s list of the Most Influential People in Wine – posed for pictures and the Chancellor said: “I recognise the significant contribution the wine and spirit industry makes to the UK economy by providing employment and contributing to local communities. This Government believes in business because enterprise will sustain the UK’s economic recovery. I am pleased to see that the wine and spirit industry is playing its part.”

Beale thanked him personally for his momentous decision to scrap the annual duty increase of 2% above inflation on wine and spirits after six damaging years, and added: “The wine and spirit industry asked the Chancellor to listen and to take action for jobs and growth, and he did both. He scrapped a damaging mechanism of automatic year-on-year tax increases, which was choking off job creation, undermining the industry’s competitiveness and hitting responsible drinkers unfairly.

“It will take time for the benefits to be realised, but I am confident that a Great British industry like ours can start creating jobs, generating growth and realising its full potential - all to the wider benefit of the UK economy.

“The wine and spirit industry already makes a significant contribution to the UK economy and society - and with continuing support, including at the next Budget, this Great British industry can contribute more.”

A reception at the House of Commons later saw MPs including Danny Alexander and Priti Patel heap praise on the drinks industry.

Almost 100 MPs swarmed into the Members Dining Room later as further awards were presented, and Beale reminded the audience that Brits pay more alcohol duty than drinkers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland combined.

“UK consumers pay almost 40% of all the alcohol duty paid in the EU,” said Beale.

Next in the list is Germany on 10%, and Beale wants to see duty cut on wine and spirits to give UK drinkers a fairer deal.

Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, said the government would continue to do right by the industry and work together with it. 

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