The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) is urging the government not to make any further increases to alcohol duty in its spring budget announcement on March 6. 

In last year’s autumn statement it was announced that alcohol duty would be temporarily frozen until August 1, 2024, following a WSTA campaign to prevent increases amid the new system which taxes alcohol according to strength.

Now, with less than two months until the spring budget – where the chancellor is expected to announce new duty rates – the WSTA is urging the government to keep duty down. 

“Inflation may be down, but sadly not for wine and spirits,” said WSTA chief executive Miles Beale. “Wine inflation is sat at a hefty 7.8% and spirits 8.8% and it gets worse for fortified wines which is running at 18.7%.

“Politicians only need to look back over the spreadsheets to discover that duty cuts bring more revenue to the Treasury and keep prices down for consumers.”

With inflation rates still high in the wine and spirits sector, the WSTA said this is the “last chance” the industry has to speak out against duty hikes ahead of the budget.

As part of his call to action, Beale urged the trade to help lobby to retain the temporary tax bracket for wine. The trade group has teamed up with Drinks Retailing in a joint Crush the Red Tape campaign to encourage businesses to write to their MPs using this letter template. The campaign calls on the government to keep all wines between 11.5% and 14.5% abv taxed at an assumed strength of 12.5% abv.

“Ministers still don’t understand how burdensome and costly the introduction of the new duty regime is for wine businesses, and just how much more cost and damage losing the easement would cause; especially to small businesses, like the near thousand independent merchants in every corner – and constituency – in the country,” Beale added. 

The WSTA will also once again be present at the Specialist Importers Trade Tasting (SITT). For details on how to register for SITT, click here.