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UK alcohol industry attacks duty payment demand "blow"

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Alcohol trade groups in the UK have hit out after government finance chiefs refused to halt monthly duty payments.

The duty payments will be taken from UK alcohol producers today

The duty payments will be taken from UK alcohol producers today

Earlier this week, an alliance of drinks industry representatives called for a six-month suspension of the payments to support businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. The payments are due today and will be taken out of accounts through direct debit.

Late yesterday, brewery trade groups the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and British Beer & Pub Association said authorities had failed to heed the call and would collect the duty as usual. The payment is estimated to average about GBP5,000 (US$6,000) for small brewers but as much as GBP500,000 for larger independent brewers.

SIBA said the decision was "incredibly disappointing" and a "huge blow for the UK's small independent brewers". Meanwhile, BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said the decision was a blow for an industry "devastated" by the coronavirus.

Miles Beales, the head of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, told just-drinks the group had received no formal response to its call to cancel the duty payment for wine and spirits producers.

"This is a bitter blow and will mean that many businesses will be faced with the extremely hard decision of whether to pay tax bills or pay staff," Beale said. "We had hoped that Government would honour their vow to do everything in their power to help, but sadly it seems that in this case, Government action does not support its rhetoric."

"No one wins. I don't see any company coming out of this up" - just-drinks speaks to Wine & Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale


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