DRINKS firms, trade and consumer groups have blasted the UK government after chancellor Phillip Hammond announced plans to increase duty on beer, cider, wine and spirits.
The previously-announced decision to put up duty in line with inflation was confirmed in the Budget last week (March 8).
According to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), the inflationary increase will add around 2p of duty to the price of a pint. Similarly, the increase will add around 36p to a bottle of whisky, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), and 8p to a bottle of wine, the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said.
Diageo GB managing director Charles Ireland described the decision to increase duty as “bad for the economy, bad for business and bad for the British public”, while BBPA chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said the increase “is not good news for the British beer industry and, in turn, pubs”.
Colin Valentine, national chairman of CAMRA, said “beer drinkers, pubs and brewers have been let down by the chancellor’s decision to increase beer duty for the first time in five years”, while Mike Benner, managing director of SIBA, called the duty rises “a blow for the millions of people who enjoy a pint of British beer in their local pub”.
Kevin Georgel, chief executive of pubco Admiral Taverns, described the beer duty rise as “a disappointment”, adding that tax paid by pubs “is now at unprecedented levels”. Taking a similar view, JD Wetherspoon chairman, Tim Martin, slammed the duty rises and has called for “a sensible rebalancing of the taxes paid by pubs and supermarkets, if the pub industry is to survive in the long term”.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, warned that the duty rise will impact wine and spirit prices.
He said the chancellor “has increased what were already excessive and unfairly high rates of duty for the UK’s wine and spirit consumers and businesses”.