SWA appeal on whisky tax rises

More than £4 of every £5 spent on Scotch whisky will go straight to the UK Chancellor unless he yields to industry calls to cancel pre-planned tax rises, a trade body has said.

The Scotch Whisky industry supports 35,000 jobs across the UK
The Scotch Whisky industry supports 35,000 jobs across the UK

Some 79% of the price of an average bottle of Scotch Whisky is made up of duty and VAT, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

If the alcohol duty escalator were implemented again at this week's Budget, this would go up to 81%.

The SWA's Call Time on Duty campaign, backed by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and the Taxpayers' Alliance, is calling on George Osborne to scrap the alcohol duty escalator and freeze duty on Wednesday.

The escalator, introduced in 2008, automatically increases duty on wine and spirits by inflation plus 2%.

SWA chief executive David Frost said: "We urge the Chancellor to listen to that large majority of the population who believe the alcohol duty escalator is simply unfair to a major Scottish, and British, industry.

"People are still under financial pressure and scrapping the escalator and freezing duty would help ease some of that pain.

"An overhaul of the alcohol duty system would support not just the Scotch Whisky industry, but also the wider hospitality industry, which provides employment across the UK."

More than three-quarters (76%) of Scots think that the pre-planned tax increases under the escalator on a bottle of Scotch Whisky are too high, according to poll of 2,000 UK adults by OnePoll.

In Scotland, 67% said the planned duty hike is too much while 86% of Scots said more should be done to help the hospitality industry more widely.

Recent research from Ernst & Young found that the wine and spirits industry as a whole supported 475,000 jobs in 2012.

The Scotch Whisky industry supports 35,000 jobs across the UK and contributes £135 a second to the UK's trade balance.