Consumers Call on Government to Support Scotch Whisky Industry in Budget

16 Mar 2014

Hard-pressed consumers are calling on the UK Government to scrap the alcohol duty escalator and freeze duty in Wednesday's Budget to show its support for the Scotch Whisky industry.

More than three quarters (76%) of Scots think that the pre-planned tax increases under the escalator on a bottle of Scotch Whisky are too high. The support from Scots is echoed more widely across the UK, with 67% saying the planned duty hike is too much.

Some 79% of the price of an average bottle of Scotch Whisky is made up of duty and VAT. If the escalator were implemented again at this week's Budget, this would go up to 81% - more than £4 of every £5 spent on Scotch going straight to the Chancellor.

More than half of the UK population believes the Government should do more to help the Scotch Whisky industry which supports 35,000 jobs across the UK and contributes £135 a second to the UK's trade balance.

Consumers are also calling on the Government to help the hospitality industry more widely - with 86% of Scots agreeing that more should be done. Recent independent research from Ernst & Young found that the wine and spirits industry as a whole supported 475,000 jobs in 2012.

The Scotch Whisky Association is part of the Call Time on Duty Campaign, along with the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and the Taxpayers' Alliance, which is calling on Chancellor George Osborne to scrap the alcohol duty escalator and freeze duty on Wednesday. The escalator, introduced in 2008, automatically increases duty on wine and spirits by inflation plus two percent.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "We urge the Chancellor to listen to that large majority of the population who believe the alcohol duty escalator is simply unfair to a major Scottish, and British, industry.  People are still under financial pressure and scrapping the escalator and freezing duty would help ease some of that pain. 

"An overhaul of the alcohol duty system would support not just the Scotch Whisky industry, but also the wider hospitality industry, which provides employment across the UK."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

2,000 people across the UK were questioned by Onepoll for their views on the alcohol duty escalator

*Ernst and Young 2013: http://www.wsta.co.uk/images/budget/EY-final-ADE-report-for-WSTA.pdf

The Alcohol Duty Escalator increases duty on all alcohol products (except beer since 2013) by 2% above inflation every year.  If it goes ahead in the Budget more than 80% of the price of an average bottle of Scotch Whisky will be made up of tax and VAT.

For more information on the Call Time on Duty Campaign please contact: Michelle Lavipour, michelle.lavipour@edelman.com 44 (0)20 3047 2252|m: 07772412572

Visit calltimeonduty.co.uk
Twitter: @CallTimeOnDuty

For more information on the SWA visit www.scotch-whisky.org.uk and follow us on Twitter @ScotchWhiskySWA

With queries please contact Rosemary Gallagher, SWA communications manager, Tel 0131 222 9230/07432 605385, rgallagher@swa.org.uk