Miles Beale (left) and David Frost (right) launched the Drop the Duty campaign in London today

Miles Beale (left) and David Frost (right) launched the Drop the Duty campaign in London today

The UK spirits and wine industry has called for a 2% cut in duty as it launches a new campaign to highlight “sky-high” tax rates.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) are pushing for the cut as part of the 'Drop the Duty!' initiative ahead of the UK's next Budget in March. The groups claim a 2% drop would boost investment across the industry and generate greater tax income from corporation tax and VAT.

A duty cut would also benefit consumers, who pay on average 80% tax on spirits and 60% on wine, the bodies suggest. 

Miles Beale, the WSTA's chief executive, said: “The wine and spirit sector already makes a significant contribution to the wider hospitality industry and to the British economy. Independent analysis shows that the sector’s economic contribution could be GBP3.9bn (US$6.1bn) greater if it weren’t for the UK’s sky-high duty rates.”

David Frost, the SWA's chief executive, said: “New evidence shows that lowering these draconian levels of excise duty would actually boost public finances and the economy, as well as benefit consumers.”

A report commissioned for the campaign found that:

  • A 2% duty cut would increase the wine and spirits industry’s contribution to economic activity by GBP3.9bn to GBP50.4bn
  • The industry’s direct contribution to UK GDP would increase by GBP0.9bn to GBP12.7bn. 
  • The wine and spirit industry directly or indirectly supports around 518,000 jobs in the UK, with the majority (69%) directly dependent on the industry’s activity.

The new campaign comes 12 months after the WSTA's 'Call Time on Duty' push which helped bring an end to the UK duty escalator on spirits and wine.