Scotland business

Whisky industry calls on chancellor to scrap duty rise

A collection of Scotch whisky Image copyright PA
Image caption The Treasury has previously claimed 90% of Scotch was exported and unaffected by UK duty but the industry body said Scotch sales in the UK had declined since the introduction of the escalator

The Scotch Whisky Association has appealed to the chancellor to freeze duty ahead of his Budget this week.

The industry body is fronting a campaign calling on the UK government to abolish the automatic annual increase in duty on wines and spirits.

The alcohol duty escalator, which goes up by inflation plus 2% each year, was introduced in 2008 but was scrapped for beer in George Osborne's last Budget.

The Treasury has said 90% of Scotch was exported and unaffected by UK duty.

But, according to the association, some 79% of the price of an average bottle of Scotch whisky is made up of duty and VAT.

It said if the alcohol duty escalator were implemented again at this week's Budget, this would raise that figure to 81%.

'Simply unfair'

The whisky industry body claimed Scotch sales in the UK had declined since the introduction of the escalator.

Its Call Time on Duty campaign was also backed by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and the Taxpayers' Alliance.

Scotch Whisky Association 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.

"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."

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