Abandon tax hike to give drinks an Olympic boost: WSTA

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association has called on the government to scrap this year’s planned alcohol tax hike to give businesses a boost for the Olympics.

Tax on alcohol could go up as much as 7.2% in this year’s Budget, due to be announced on March 21, thanks to the the alcohol tax escalator.

Duty and VAT already account for three-quarters of the average price of a bottle of vodka and half the price of a bottle of wine, the WSTA said.

It noted that visitors to the London Olympics face paying 50% more for an average bottle of wine than if the games were held in Paris, and three times what they would pay in Madrid.

It also reported that UK alcohol sales dropped 3% by volume in 2011, with sales in pubs and restaurants particularly hard hit.

Interim chief executive Gavin Partington said: “We recognise the pressure there is on the public finances. However easing the duty burden on the drinks industry would boost growth and investment, helping the sector to play its part in the UK’s economic recovery.

“By scrapping the planned duty increase, the Chancellor would also be providing some much needed relief to consumers whose household budgets are already being squeezed. 

“With thousands of extra visitors heading to the UK for the Olympic Games, this is no time to force drinks prices up even further.”

The WSTA’s Budget submission can be read on its website, wsta.co.uk.

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