UK Autumn Budget 2017 - The Reaction

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Earlier today, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer announced his latest budgetary plans. On spirits and wine, Philip Hammond did not increase duty, although higher-abv ciders will be subject to a duty rise in an attempt to combat "excessive alcohol consumption by the most vulnerable people". Here, just-drinks pulls together reaction from within the UK's drinks industry to today's news.

  • UK Wine & Spirit Trade Association

"After a freeze in wine duty in the 2015 Budget, wine duty income increased by GBP136m (+3.6%) the following year and after a 2% cut in spirits duty that year, spirits duty income increased by GBP124m (+4.1%) over the same period."

  • WSTA chief executive Miles Beale

"The Chancellor has ... shown the Government is in touch with what consumers want and is supporting an industry that is proving to be a real asset to British business. He has recognised that rebalancing the UK's excessive duty rates is a win/win for both the Treasury, the wine and spirit trade – not to mention consumers."

  • Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls

"At a time of rising costs, a freeze in the beer duty and a continuation of support for pubs on business rates is very welcome. The ALMR has been pushing for a duty freeze across all alcohol types, and this positive action will help tackle rising costs, saving the sector around GBP116m, as well as underpinning consumer confidence."

  • British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds

"The Chancellor's decision to freeze beer duty and cancel his planned rise is an early Christmas present for beer drinkers and pubgoers worth GBP117m this year and in subsequent years. It will secure over 3,000 jobs in pubs and the wider beer supply chain that would otherwise have been lost."

  • Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive

"We welcome the freeze in excise duty on spirits, which helps support the competitiveness of Scotch – a major UK export - in uncertain times. But, tax on Scotch is still very high: GBP4 in every GBP5 spent on Scotch goes to the Treasury, and we believe this is a missed opportunity. We believe a cut would have delivered more revenues to the Government as well as underscoring government support for an important UK manufacturing industry, which supports 40,000 jobs across the UK."

  • Charles Ireland, MD of Diageo Great Britain

"The duty freeze provides some respite for Britain's drinkers, although taxes on spirits remain amongst the highest of any major economy in the world. We now repeat our call for a review of the alcohol duty system to deliver fairness for Scotch whisky, which is exactly the kind of unique British product the UK needs to thrive after Brexit."

  • Mike Benner, chief executive of The Society of Independent Brewers

"We'd now like to see the Chancellor go further and commit to a freeze in beer duty across the entire Parliament. An extension by one more year of rate relief for pubs and a move to CPI from RPI is also welcome but more action is still required. Whilst news for our sector has been positive from the Chancellor, brewers and pubs still face a tough trading period ahead with uncertainty around Brexit, and worsening growth and productivity figures."

  • Gordon Johncox, MD of Aston Manor Cider

"Notwithstanding the challenge of framing legislation to make it happen, this idea has no merit. 'White cider' represents around 0.27% of total alcohol and is in long-term decline. And, whilst all products are capable of being misused, the vast majority of 'white cider' is enjoyed by people on low incomes without issue.

"Frontline professionals supporting people in crisis reject the targeting of specific products as it merely displaces misuse and might even make matters worse. We shared this independent research with the Treasury as part of the consultation process."

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