Wine Drinkers UK launches campaign for tax relief

Several major UK wine suppliers have banded together to launch a campaign aiming to secure a tax break for the nation’s favourite tipple.

Companies like Treasury Wine Estates, Concha y Toro and Enotria have created a lobbying group called Wine Drinkers UK and a social media campaign using the hashtag #CutBackWineTax.

It launched today because August 12 marks the point in the year when wine drinkers effectively stop paying tax on a £5 bottle of wine.

We are now 61% of the way through the year, and that is seen as symbolic, because 61% of a £5 bottle of wine goes on tax – £2.23 on duty and 83p on VAT.

British consumers pay more in wine duty than any other group in Europe, and the wine trade is fed up of seeing beer, cider and spirits gain a tax freeze, while wine duty keeps being hiked up.

The trade has installed presenter Helena Nicklin, one-third of The Three Drinkers, as an ambassador for the campaign. “As the number of people enjoying wine grows, so does their tax bill,” she said. “Duty on wine has risen over twice as fast as beer over the past 10 years.

“As a result, on average, the majority of wine drinkers are handing over more than 50p in every pound they spend to the taxman. After a decade of unfair increases, it is time to cut them a break and cut back wine tax.”

The group conducted a YouGov poll and found that wine was drunk by 81% of adults over the past year, excluding teetotallers. That saw it beat beer and spirits, with 79% each, to the top spot. Wine is the largest category by value in the UK off-trade, ahead of both spirits and beer.

The group wants to challenge the assumption that wine is the preserve of the middle classes, highlighting that it is enjoyed by Brits from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. You could also argue that wine is more popular among females, who are being unfairly punished by constant duty hikes.

Australian Vintage, Bibendum, Reh Kendermann, Kingsland, Casella and Hatch Mansfield are among the suppliers to back the campaign, along with retailers like Cambridge Wine Merchants and The Oxford Wine Company, plus various wine writers.

Wine Drinkers UK is urging everyone concerned about wine duty rises to write to their MPs, demanding the government takes action at the next Budget.

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