Scotch Whisky industry toasts scrapping of alcohol duty escalator and spirits duty freeze

19 Mar 2014

Budget boost for consumers and a vital industry

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has warmly welcomed the Coalition Government's decision to scrap the alcohol duty escalator a year early and freeze excise duty on spirits, following calls from consumers, industry and politicians of all parties.

In today's Budget, Chancellor George Osborne showed he had listened to businesses and consumers by not only scrapping the escalator, which has increased duty on Scotch Whisky by 2% above the rate of RPI every year since 2008, but also by freezing excise duty on whisky.

This means that planned increases of 4.8% in excise duty, which would have added another 40 pence in tax to a bottle of whisky, will not now go ahead.

Welcoming the Chancellor's announcement the SWA said that the decision was a show of support for a major Scottish and British industry, which supports 35,000 jobs, many in economically fragile areas. The Chancellor described Scotch Whisky as a great "British success story".  The move will also benefit the wider hospitality industry and help support investment across the sector, according to independent research by Ernst & Young.

The SWA said scrapping the escalator will be welcomed by hard-pressed consumers. The vast majority of UK consumers - almost 70% - said in a poll last week that pre-planned tax increases under the escalator on a bottle of Scotch were too high.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "This show of support for distillers from the Coalition Government will be warmly welcomed across the Scotch Whisky industry.

"We are delighted that the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury listened to our case for scrapping the unfair alcohol duty escalator and freezing whisky duty. It is a move that supports hard-pressed consumers, a major manufacturing and export industry and the wider hospitality sector.

"This fairer tax treatment in the UK, the third biggest market for Scotch Whisky, also sends the right signal on excise policy to the governments of the 200 countries to which we export.  So its effects will be felt around the world."



With media enquiries, please contact Rosemary Gallagher, SWA communications manager, on 0131 222 9230/0743 260 5385 (email or David Williamson, SWA government & communications director, on 0131 222 9226/0773 049 6151 (email:

The alcohol duty escalator was introduced in 2008 and scheduled to end in 2015. Since its introduction the tax on a bottle of Scotch had increased by 44% or RPI plus 2% each year. 

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