Scots say whisky tax 'unfair'

21 Dec 2014

Almost 90% of Scots say high level of tax on Scotch Whisky is 'unfair'

Industry calls for duty to be cut by 2%

The vast majority of Scots think the high level of tax levied on the country's national drink is unfair, according to a new survey.

Some 89% of Scottish people think the tax of almost 80% on an average bottle of Scotch Whisky - made up of VAT and excise duty - is an unfair amount. With many people buying Scotch over the festive season as a gift for loved ones or to enjoy a dram themselves, the onerous level of tax is adding to the financial burden on consumers.

To help ease pressure on family budgets, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the industry trade body, has joined forces with the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and the TaxPayers' Alliance to launch the 'Drop the Duty! campaign. The campaign is calling for Chancellor George Osborne to cut excise duty by 2% on Scotch Whisky, along with other spirits and wine, in next spring's UK Budget.

The average 70cl bottle of Scotch costs £12.90, with £10.06, of that made up of tax. Under the current UK Government, tax on spirits has increased by 25%.

As well as being harsh on consumers, the high level of tax is not supportive of Scotch in its domestic market. The number of bottles of Scotch Whisky released in the first half of this year was 35.4 million, down 7.30% from 38.2m in the first half 2013.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "At this time of year, in particular, many people are feeling under financial strain. It's therefore not surprising that the vast majority of Scots think the tax of almost 80% on their bottle of Scotch is unfair. We are calling on George Osborne to do something to ease at least some of this financial pressure by cutting duty by 2% on Scotch in next year's Budget."

Jonathan Isaby, TaxPayers' Alliance chief executive, said: "Families across the country are still feeling the pinch, not just over the Christmas period but all year round. The Chancellor has a chance to leave a little more in people's pockets by cutting this unfairly high tax down to size in the Budget. Politicians often talk about the cost of living crisis, and this is a chance for the Chancellor to do something about it."

Log onto www.droptheduty.co.uk to find out more and follow the campaign on Twitter @droptheduty.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS
216 Scots were polled by Censuswide.
  
Scotch Whisky - facts and figures;

  • Nearly 80% (78% or £10.06)) of the average price (£12.90) of a 70cl bottle of Scotch Whisky is made up of excise duty and Vat.
  • Excise duty has risen by 44% - or £2.42 a bottle - since 2008.
  • Under the current Government, tax on spirits has increased by 25%.
  • Scotch Whisky drinkers pay 51% more duty on the same amount of alcohol than beer drinkers and 29% more than wine drinkers.
  • The number of bottles of Scotch Whisky released for sale in the UK last year was 87.5 million, down 2.95% from 90m bottles in 2012. The number released in the first half of this year was 35.4m, down 7.30% from 38.2m in the first half 2013.
  • The current tax regime is not supporting Scotch Whisky in the UK - its domestic market.
  • Scotch Whisky accounts for nearly 25% of all UK food and drink exports.  High tax rates in the UK encourage high tax rates overseas. 
  • Duty on Scotch Whisky, and all spirits, was last cut in 1996. Duty on spirits has only been cut three times in a century. 
  • The Scotch Whisky industry supports around 40,000 jobs across the UK.

With media enquiries please contact Rosemary Gallagher, SWA communications manager, 0131 222 9230/07432 605385 or email rgallagher@swa.org.uk



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