Drinks industry hit by duty rise

Today’s Budget has dealt a major blow to the drinks industry as Alistair Darling announces a hike in alcohol duty.

The duty for beers, wines and spirits will rise by 2% above inflation from midnight on Sunday (March 28).

Duty on cider - which Darling described as “under-taxed” - will also be increased by 10% from Sunday night.

He added that changes will be made in September to the definition of strong cider and that brands with high abvs will be even more heavily taxed.

Darling ignored pleas from the industry to scrap the controversial duty escalator — meaning alcoholic drinks tax will continue to rise by 2% above inflation each year for the next two years, amounting to an overall rise of 5%.

In his third and final Budget before the general election Darling also announced tobacco duty will increase from today by 1% above inflation.