The Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled his Budget for the UK today

The Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled his Budget for the UK today

The alcoholic drinks industry in the UK is toasting the country's Chancellor of the Exchequer today (19 March) after he scrapped the alcohol duty escalator in this year's Budget.

George Osborne announced the move, which brings to an end the annual excise increase on alcohol, in Parliament this afternoon. At the same time, Osborne introduced a second consecutive GBP0.01 cut in the duty on a pint of beer.

The rate of duty on spirits - Scotch whisky warranted a special mention by Osborne ahead of Scotland's independence vote in September - was frozen for this year, while the duty on wine will rise in-line with inflation.

Following the announcement, the UK's Wine & Spirit Trade Association said: “The Chancellor’s decision to scrap the alcohol duty escalator a year early and freeze alcohol duty for spirits is fantastic news and will be widely welcomed by consumers and businesses.”

The head of the British Beer & Pub Association, Brigid Simmonds added: “This is fantastic news, and George Osborne is again the toast of Britain’s brewers, pubs and pubgoers. It shows that the Government has understood our case, that taxes on British beer had become far too high, and action was long overdue.”

Not everyone was happy, however. Michael Saunders, MD of Bibendum Wine, said: "The decision to increase wine ... duty in line with inflation is disappointing. Today’s budget may be a step in the right direction but it still represents a missed opportunity."

The changes come into effect from Monday (24 March).

Duty changes

  • Duty on a 75cl bottle of wine will be GBP2.05, up by 5p
  • Duty on a 75cl bottle of sparkling wine will be GBP2.63, up 7p
  • Duty on a 70cl bottle of vodka at 37.5% remains at GBP7.41
  • Duty on a 1-litre bottle of vodka at 37.5% remains at GBP10.58
  • Duty on a 70cl bottle of gin at 40% remains at GBP7.90
  • Duty on a 1-litre bottle of gin at 40% remains at GBP11.29