116 drinks industry leaders have signed an open letter calling on the government to reintroduce a freeze on alcohol duty after previous plans were scrapped by chancellor Jeremy Hunt. 

The letter, published in The Times, urged the chancellor to review alcohol duty policies, particularly in light of rising energy prices.

“The government’s decision to reverse the alcohol duty freeze will result in a double-digit tax rise that unnecessarily fuels inflation, leads to higher prices for consumers and to thousands of jobs being put at risk,” the letter read. 

“It does not have to be this way…Despite the challenges of Brexit, the pandemic and disruption to global supply chains, our sector has provided increased revenue to the Exchequer because of, not despite, duty freezes.

“We urge the government to support the drinks industry and cancel the double-digit tax increases on spirits, wine, cider and beer.”

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, described the tax rise as “damaging”. He continued: “This could not have come at a worse time for the alcohol trade with bars and restaurants, producers and suppliers still reeling from pandemic lockdowns and having to manage ever-increasing costs and global supply chain issues.”

“History has shown that freezing alcohol duty does not negatively impact on Treasury coffers, over the past five years during a stable period for alcohol duty, government income from taxing alcohol has increased by 18% – because of, not despite, duty freezes,” Beale added.

Signatories include representatives from trade associations across all categories, as well as drinks companies such as Diageo, Moët Hennessy UK and Concha y Toro.