Budget 2020: Chancellor freezes all duty on alcohol

In his Budget speech today the Chancellor has announced he is freezing all alcohol duty.

The news follows repeated calls from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and others in the industry to support the wine industry in particular, which was singled out for a duty increase in the last Budget.

Responding to the news on Twitter, WSTA chief executive, Miles Beale, said: “All alcohol duty ‘frozen’. That is a pleasant surprise, especially for wine.”

In a further statement, Beale said: “The decision to freeze wine and spirit duty is welcome for British business, pubs and the wider hospitality trade. While he has not cut duty, it is reassuring to see that in his first Budget as Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, has taken steps to address the UK’s excessively high duty rates.

“He has shown he is in touch with British consumers – from all walks of life - who want to enjoy a drink without getting stung by further tax hikes. In particular the UK’s 33 million wine lovers, a large proportion of whom are women, are expressing a sigh of relief after they were singled out for a duty rise at the last Budget.

 “Today’s freeze is a victory for the WSTA’s hard fought campaign which called on government to help cash-strapped consumers by keeping prices down, and to support British businesses entering a new trading landscape.

 “We will all raise a glass to the Chancellor tonight, who has recognised that everyone benefits from a freeze, including the Treasury.”

And wine expert Joe Fattorini, spokesperson for Wine Drinkers UK, said: “The recognition by the Chancellor that wine is the nation’s favourite alcoholic drink and therefore shouldn’t be singled out for tax rises is welcome news for the 33 million wine fans in the UK.

“Now it’s time to go one step further and cut back wine tax in the coming year. The last Chancellor to do so was Nigel Lawson, 36 years ago, when wine would not have been as regular a feature in British shopping baskets.

“This year, over half of shoppers are set to be priced out as the price of an average bottle rises above £6. With women and the working class being disproportionately penalised by this unfairness, we will continue to lobby for a better deal. It’s high time to reduce wine duty. 

In addition, Rishi Sunak said the Government would invest £10 million in helping whisky distilleries to go green as well as £1m to promote Scottish food and drink overseas.

The big focus of this Spring’s Budget focused on the current coronavirus crisis.

Chancellor Sunak revealed a £30 billion “fiscal stimulus” to support “British people, British jobs and British businesses” as he warned the outbreak will bring “significant” short-term impact.

The coronavirus relief efforts include a number of pledges, including total government support for businesses and “vulnerable” people, worth £7 billion. An additional £5 billion is being made available to NHS.

Also as part of this package, loans of up to £1.2 million will be available to support small and medium-sized businesses to help during the crisis.

Business rates will be suspended for a year for small businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality with a rateable value worth less than £51,000, which Sunak said was “equivalent to a £1 billion tax cut.”

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