The UK Government should freeze duty tax on wine and spirits in its upcoming annual Budget to prevent further job losses in the drinks industry, the Wine & Spirit Trade Association has said.

A four-year duty "tax escalator", launched in 2008, is set to bring at least a 2% above inflation tax rise on alcoholic drinks in the UK Budget.

There are fears in industry that the Government will look to plug a hole in public finances by taxing alcohol further.

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) today (16 February) called for the escalator to be halted.

"Enough is enough," said WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles.

Tax has risen by 20% on wine and more than 15% on spirits in the last two years, which the WSTA said has contributed heavily to widespread job losses in the UK drinks sector.

Figures contained in the Government's pre-Budget Report, released in December 2009, show that it expects to make GBP300m (US$470m) more than anticipated from alcohol tax in the fiscal year to the end of March.

Cider may the big loser in the upcoming Budget, after the Government ordered a review of taxation on the drink to reflect its newfound popularity. 

However, there is a considerable lack of clarity on tax and fiscal policy in general, with an election set to be held in the UK before June.