Join our campaign for fair tax for Scotch Whisky
We asked the UK Government to keep the commitment they made to support our industry...
... Will they deliver in the 2023 Autumn Statement?
In the 2023 Spring Budget the Scotch Whisky industry was hit with a 10.1% tax increase, growing the tax burden to 75% of the average priced bottle and widening the difference between the taxation of spirits compared to other categories of alcohol.
We know that the 10.1% duty hike in August led to alcohol making the largest contribution to inflation on record. That doesn’t help HM Treasury in meeting the objective of halving inflation, it doesn’t help our industry to invest, and it doesn’t help businesses and households struggling with rising costs.
Distillers are now asking: what happened to the UK Government’s promise to #SupportScotch?
Why is the UK market important?
Scotch Whisky is a home-grown success story. The Scotch Whisky industry might be an export-focused industry – we’re one of few products that can proudly say we export to more than 174 markets around the world. But the UK remains our 5th largest market, representing 73m bottles each year. For distillers, to be taxed this heavily, on their own doorstep and in a market which for many smaller producers is the first in which their products are sold, is damaging to working capital, and disincentivising to export ambitions.
The Chief Medical Officers' guidelines on low-risk consumption say adults should drink no more than 14 units a week of alcohol. The guidelines do not discriminate between categories of alcohol, but the tax system continues to do so.
Under the new rate of Excise Duty, which came into force in August 2023, consumers who choose to drink 14 units of cider a week are now taxed £1.23, those who choose to drink 14 units of beer are taxed £2.67, for wine it's £3.99, while those who choose to enjoy Scotch Whisky it will be £4.42 - 260% more than cider.
Why are spirits being singled out?
What should the UK Government do now?
This Autumn, the UK Government and HM Treasury have the opportunity to...
Back spirits to raise revenue
Treat consumers fairly
Invest for long-term growth
In the past decade, excise duty revenue from cider fell by 28% when cider has had the same tax treatment as spirits. Over the same period, when beer had one more duty cut than spirits, excise duty revenue increased by 9%. By contrast, spirits revenue increased by 50%. By supporting Scotch Whisky and the spirits category, HM Treasury can raise more revenue the right way.
Our industry is committed to helping consumers make responsible choices about alcohol consumption. We believe that the tax system should do the same by bringing the cost of units of alcohol closer together - not widen them further. HM Treasury should not make the tax system even more unfair to consumers who chose spirits over other alcohol categories.
It's time for HM Treasury to recognise that the success of the Scotch Whisky industry cannot be taken for granted. By investing in the industry, by freezing duty and backing spirits, it can invest in long-term growth.
Why support Scotch?
Help reduce inflation
Fair tax for a home grown product
As UK consumers continue to drink fewer units of alcohol, they are looking more and more for premium experiences, shifting their reduced consumption towards cocktails and premium drinks. That shift is good for our bars, good for Scotch Whisky, and good for Treasury revenue. Supporting Scotch supports our supply chain, including the hospitality sector and the hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses that make it special.
The Scotch Whisky industry had benefitted from the confidence and stability that duty freezes delivered. This proven formula which increased confidence, boosted investment and driven government revenue. In November's fiscal statement, the Chancellor must freeze duty on spirits, avoiding furthering the discrepancy between categories, and in doing so make the choice to do everything possible to reduce inflation.
Nearly 400 years after the first taxes on the industry were introduced the industry is well used to paying its way - but at present it is paying its fair share and the fair share of other categories too. What the industry and consumers want is fair tax, and that is what was promised.
The 2019 Conservative manifesto (p.48) recognised the high tax burden on Scotch Whisky and in the Queens Speech following the General Election, the UK government promised to “review alcohol duty to ensure our tax system is supporting Scottish whisky and gin producers and protecting 42,000 jobs supported by Scotch across the UK.”
The Autumn Statement is an opportunity to put this right and #SupportScotch once more
Join the campaign!
Help us ensure tax fairness for Scotch Whisky and other spirits by joining our campaign to ask the UK Government to #SupportScotch in the Autumn Budget. You can write to your local MP, or contact them using the hashtag on social media.
Tweet your MP
- Find the twitter handle of your MP by putting your postcode into https://www.theyworkforyou.com/
- Tweet them to tell them to #SupportScotch - remember to tag us @ScotchWhiskySWA
Some suggested tweets below:
- The Scotch Whisky industry is the UK’s number 1 food and drink export and a vital part of our economy. I’ve just written to [insert MP’s Twitter handle] to help ensure @hmtreasury #SupportScotch in the #AutumnStatement2023
- 75% of the cost of a bottle of #ScotchWhisky in the UK is collected in tax - higher than any other alcoholic drink. The UK Govt needs to #SupportScotch distillers at a crucial time - please back the campaign [insert MP's Twitter handle]
The Scotch Whisky industry is the UK’s number one food and drink export and a vital part of our economy