The Tory government stands accused of a “complete and utter betrayal” of Scotland’s Whisky industry as their new rules are set to come into force that will see each bottle taxed at an incredible 75%.
The Scotch Whisky Association said the 10.1% duty increase for whisky was a “hammer blow for distillers and consumers”
The new system was first set out by then chancellor Rishi Sunak in 2021, it aims to encourage consumers to cut back by taxing all drinks based on their strength, rather than the previous categories of wine, beer, spirits, and ciders.
The now Prime Minister described the overhaul as “the most radical simplification of alcohol duties for over 140 years”, enabled by Britain’s exit from the EU. So once again Brexit is a huge factor in this decision.
At March’s Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also announced that the freeze to alcohol duty would end on August 1 and increase by inflation, at 10.1%.
The increase will see duty rise by 44p on a bottle of wine, which when combined with VAT will mean consumers will pay an extra 53p, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).
Duty on 18% cream sherry will go up from £2.98 to £3.85, with VAT adding up to an increase of more than £1 a bottle, while a bottle of port will go up by more than £1.50.
The total tax on a bottle of gin or vodka will go up by nearly £1
However,Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is cutting the duty charged on draught pints across the UK by 11p in August in a major boost for pubs and draught beer drinkers.
But the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said brewers will pay 10.1% more tax on bottles and cans of beer from Tuesday, meaning tax will make up around 30% of the cost of a 500ml bottle.
Despite the draught freeze, the BBPA said the tax increase on packaged beer will add an extra £225 million of costs per year across the industry.
After calling the duty increases a “hammer blow”, Scotch Whisky Association director of strategy Graeme Littlejohn went on: “At a time when inflation has only just started to creep downwards, this tax increase will continue to fuel inflation and make it more difficult for the Scotch whisky industry to invest in growth and job creation in Scotland and across the UK supply chain.
“Rather than choosing to back an industry which the UK Government promised to support through the tax system, the Government has chosen to impose the largest duty increase in almost half a century, increasing the cost of every bottle of Scotch whisky sold in the UK by almost a pound and taking the tax burden on the average priced bottle to 75%.
“In a further blow, distillers will now face a further competitive disadvantage in pubs, restaurants and bars by being unfairly excluded from tax breaks available to beer and cider.”
Richard Lochhead, the SNP MSP for the Speyside area, said he was “strongly opposed to the Tory’s plans to hike duty on Scotch whisky”. He went on: “These distillers are some of the biggest employers in Moray and the industry is vital to our rural economy, there are serious concerns within the local industry about the impact duty increases will have on future investment in our region.
“There’s no doubt this 10% increase in duty – the highest rise in 40 years – is a complete betrayal of one of Scotland’s most valued industries.
“Ahead of the 2019 General Election, we had the Tories announce to big fanfare their plans to ensure the tax system supported the Scotch whisky industry. That commitment has been abandoned and the average bottle of whisky will now be taxed at an astonishing 75%.
“As usual we get big promises from the Tories in the run up to an election. Those promises have been long forgotten and the Scotch whisky industry is once again being singled out to boost UK Treasury coffers.”
So once again Scotland Whisky industry is being unfairly penalised by this huge increase in taxation and all because this Tory government has trashed the UK economy we are now all having to pay the price for being in this failing Union