WSTA calls for alcohol duty freeze

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has called on the chancellor to freeze wine and spirit duty in the forthcoming Budget.

The organisation said that the average price of a bottle of wine has gone up 18p, while a bottle of gin has increased by 22p in the last year.

The trade group said the impact of the pandemic, closure of the hospitality sector, Brexit and adapting to a new trading landscape has meant that businesses are facing “record high prices, which are inevitably being passed on to increasingly squeezed consumers”.

Meanwhile, the temporary cut in VAT to 5% on soft drinks and food ends today (Friday), with VAT increasing to 12.5%. The WSTA is also asking the Government to keep a lower rate of VAT for hospitality, but also to broaden the scheme to include alcoholic drinks.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “After more than 18 difficult months, and with the prospect of rising prices and falling consumer confidence, we are calling on the Government to keep alcohol duty rates as they are until after it has completed its Alcohol Duty Review. Freezing wine and spirit duty at the Budget will give businesses and consumers a much-needed break, which will be vital for our sector’s the road to recovery.”

According to the WSTA, 55% of the average priced bottle of wine and 73% of a bottle of spirits, at 40% abv, sold in shops and supermarkets goes to the Treasury in tax and VAT.

The Autumn Budget will be announced on October 27.

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