Scotch Whisky industry welcomes duty freeze, but says more support needed

16 Mar 2016

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has welcomed the UK Government's decision to freeze excise duty on spirits in today's Budget. But it says a cut would have provided a bigger boost for consumers, a vital home-grown industry and public finances.

As a result of today's freeze, tax - VAT and excise duty - remains at 76%, a level that three quarters of the British public believe is too high. The excise duty on a 70cl bottle of Scotch at the average price of £13 is £7.59 and the total tax burden is £9.91.

Last year's 2% cut in excise helped boost revenue from spirits for the Treasury by £102 million and the Scotch Whisky Association had argued that George Osborne should do the same this year to help the public finances, a home-grown industry and consumers.

Despite the Government opting for a freeze rather than a cut the SWA says that Scotch Whisky will remain one of the UK's most vital industries, supporting more than 40,000 jobs across the UK. It will also continue to be one of the UK's biggest exports. Without the success of Scotch, the UK's trade deficit would be 11% larger.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "We welcome the freeze in excise duty on spirits.  We hope that this will sustain continued growth in the UK market for Scotch Whisky and thus help improve the public finances.  But tax is still 76% of the price of an average bottle of Scotch and the majority of the British public think that is unfairly high. We will continue to call for fairer taxation of Scotch, a vital UK industry, and we urge duty reductions in future years."

ENDS

Notes to editors:
An average priced bottle of Scotch Whisky is £13.
VAT is charged twice on Scotch Whisky - on duty and on the final selling price. The total VAT on a bottle of Scotch is £2.17.

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 head of communications, Tel 0131 222 9230/07432 605385, rgallagher@swa.org.uk or David Williamson, SWA public affairs & communications director, Tel 0131 222 9226/07730 496151.