Scots call for UK government to support Scotch in new poll

11 Sep 2018

Nearly three in four Scots (71%) believe tax on Scotch Whisky in the UK should be at least as competitive as European taxes on flagship food and drink products, according to a Survation poll commissioned by the Scotch Whisky Association.

£3 in every £4 spent on the average priced bottle of Scotch Whisky in the UK goes directly to the Treasury in taxation. Scotland's national drink is currently taxed 76% higher than the EU average for spirits. Ironically, it is cheaper to buy a bottle of Scotch in France than it is in the home of Scotch.

The industry recently reported a record 1.9 million visits to distilleries and tourist centres in 2017. Many of those tourists are shocked at the level of taxation of Scotland's national drink in its home market, with distilleries facing the 4th highest rate of spirits duty across the EU. The Scotch Whisky Association is calling on the UK Government to continue to support Scotch Whisky at home through a duty freeze in the Autumn Budget.

The freeze on spirits excise duty announced by the Chancellor in November 2017 has delivered £1.6bn for the Treasury in the period February to July - a 7.5% (£114m) increase on revenues during the same period in 2017.

Nearly three fifths (57%) of those questioned claimed the UK government could do more to support the Scotch Whisky industry, which is responsible for a fifth of all UK food and drink exports, worth over £4 billion a year.

Karen Betts, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said:

"The Scotch Whisky industry is working hard to boost our exports and improve trading conditions for Scotch all over the world. As we do so, we are calling on the government to recognise the contribution we make to the UK's balance of trade in goods and back us at home.

"It is inconceivable France would hamstring its wine industry through heavy taxation. Yet, despite Scotch Whisky generating billions in revenue for the economy, employing thousands of people, and attracting millions of tourists every year, it remains among the most taxed food and drink products in Europe.

"That is why we are calling on the Chancellor to continue to freeze duty on spirits in this year's Budget. The evidence shows that a continued freeze would not only deliver greater revenue for the Treasury, but also help to support an industry that has invested more than £500m in capital projects over the last five years."

Notes to editors

The survey was conducted by Survation between 29 August and 3 September 2018. This survey was conducted via an online panel and had a sample size of 1,040 Scottish residents aged 18+. Invitations to complete surveys were sent to members of the panel. Differential response rates from different demographic groups were taken into account.

Full polling results available here.

In France, the duty on a litre of pure alcohol is £15.39; in Germany, it is £11.52; in Spain £8.48. All three countries are in the top five global export markets for Scotch Whisky. The EU average is £16.31. In the UK it is £28.74 per litre of pure alcohol, making it 76% higher than the EU average.