Scotch Whisky industry meets with Treasury Minister on 76% tax burden

02 Feb 2016

  • SWA makes case for 2% excise cut in March Budget
  • Last year's cut contributed to £96m increase in spirits revenue for Treasury

The Scotch Whisky industry this week met with the Treasury in advance of the UK Budget on 16 March to put its case for a 2% cut in spirits duty.

Representatives from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) met Treasury Exchequer Secretary Damian Hinds MP yesterday afternoon (2 February) and discussed the pressures on the industry caused by the fact that 76% of the price of an average bottle of Scotch goes in tax.

While the SWA welcomed the Chancellor's decision to cut duty by 2% in last year's Budget, it said more has to be done to support the industry. The SWA wants to see 'Fair Tax For Whisky' and has issued a call to action to 'Stand up for Scotch'.

It also discussed the benefits to the Treasury of a reduction in very high excise rates. 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.

In its Budget submission to the Treasury, the SWA set out how unfair the current system is on Scotch Whisky - a great Scottish and British industry. On the same amount of alcohol, Scotch drinkers pay 51% more duty than beer drinkers in the UK and 27% more than wine drinkers. And, when polled, three quarters of the British public said duty on Scotch should be cut.*

David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said:

"We had a constructive discussion with the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, highlighting the significant increase in Government revenues this year - nearly £100m - as a result of the spirits duty cut in March, as well as the boost that decision gave to distillers, large and small. We hope the Government will build on last year's decision by once again cutting excise by 2% and helping to reduce from the current onerous 76% the tax take on an average priced bottle of Scotch. We would like to see fair tax for whisky and we're asking the government to stand up for Scotch.

"We explained how a reduction in excise in next month's Budget would support public finances, promote investment and jobs across the UK and continue the progress made towards fairer tax for one of the UK's most iconic and successful industries.   In short, when unnecessarily heavy tax is cut, revenues actually go up, and consumer and industry confidence is boosted."


*The poll included 1,014 respondents. It was conducted on the SWA's behalf by Censuswide. The timescale was: 16.12.15 - 18.12.15

Our Budget submission in full is available to download below.

For more information please contact SWA head of communications Rosemary Gallagher on 0131 222 9230/07432 605385 or email

Follow us on Twitter @ScotchWhiskySWA

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