Hospitality sector backs Scotch Whisky industry calls for 2% excise duty cut

24 Feb 2016

The hospitality industry has backed calls for a 2% cut in excise duty on Scotch Whisky, and all spirits, saying bars, restaurants and hotels would benefit from lower taxation on alcohol.

The British Hospitality Association's Scottish arm says a reduction in duty would support competitiveness and help ease cost pressures on the sector, as well as benefiting customers.

While the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) welcomed the UK Government's decision to cut duty by 2% in last year's Budget, it has said more needs to be done to support the industry. The SWA wants to see 'Fair Tax For Whisky', pointing to the current onerous level of 76% tax, including excise duty and Vat, on an average priced bottle of Scotch. Around three quarters of the British public agree this level of tax is too high.

And now the British Hospitality Association (BHA), which represents over 7,000 businesses providing over 250,000 jobs across the sector, says a 2% cut in excise would benefit its members and improve competitiveness with other countries.

Scotch Whisky, along with other spirits and wine, accounts for £5.4 billion, or more than 35%, of alcohol, sold in UK pubs. Looking at the wider hospitality sector, including restaurants and hotels, the on-trade total for spirits and wine sold reaches almost £10bn.*

Willie Macleod, executive director of the BHA in Scotland, said: "A 2% cut in excise on Scotch Whisky, and other categories of alcohol, would help ease some of the pressures on the hospitality sector. We operate in a competitive global market-place in which our customers are already paying high levels of tax, including the highest rates of VAT on hotel accommodation in Europe. A reduction in alcohol excise duty would show that the UK government realises it needs to support our hospitality industry and the employment it creates."

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "By supporting Scotch Whisky in next month's Budget, the UK Government can bolster jobs, local communities and great British pubs across the UK, as well as benefit the Treasury.

"Last year's spirits duty cut actually helped boost tax receipts on spirits by £96 million between April and December, compared to the same period in 2014. We're calling on Chancellor George Osborne to Stand Up For Scotch again this year."


Notes to editors
With media queries please contact Rosemary Gallagher, Scotch Whisky Association head of communications, 0044 131 222 9230 or 0044 7432 605385, email   

*EY Economic Impact of the UK Hospitality Sector report