Freeze on drinks duty welcomed

Today’s Budget has been broadly welcomed by the licensed trade with spirit and beer companies applauding the Chancellor’s decision to freeze duty on cider, wine, beer and spirits.

Charles Ireland, Managing Director, Diageo Great Britain, commented, “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 have been greatly encouraged by the fantastic support of Parliamentarians from all parties, especially Ruth Davidson, David Mundell and the other Scottish Conservative MPs, who have called for a fairer deal for Scotch and spirits: an industry that generates £5 billion of exports and employs 50,000 people. 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.”

While David Forde, UK Managing Director of HEINEKEN said, “Having already hiked beer duty this year, it is good to see the Chancellor recognise the importance of the Great British Pub.”

Bruce Ray, vice president corporate affairs, for Northampton-based Carlsberg UK, commented, “Today’s announcement today about a freeze in beer duty will be welcomed by brewers, publicans and everyone who enjoys a glass of beer in the pub.This year’s cut will support continued innovation and investment, create new jobs, attract tourists and ultimately benefit our beer-loving nation. This is a wonderful achievement secured through cross-industry work, and we are pleased that government has recognised that a thriving and prosperous beer and pub industry is what our nation needs.”

Darren Seward, Hospitality Specialist at NFU Mutual, commented specifically on the implications for hospitality businesses, “It was encouraging to see some measures made by the Chancellor to keep the vibrant social spaces of the community alive – our pubs and high streets.

He continued, “Frozen duties on ciders, wines, spirits and beer, fuel, and short haul air passenger rates will be welcomed by the industry and revelling consumers alike, and exemption for ‘white van men and women’ from increases on the new diesel vehicle supplement will provide breathing room for those particularly in hospitality, food and drink and retail to keep deliveries efficient.”

Colliers International’s Head of Alternative Markets, James Shorthouse said, “The Chancellor’s decision to freeze duty on cider, wine, beer and spirits will mean a pint of beer will be 12p less and a bottle of whisky £1.15 less than it would have been in 2018; which is good for the consumer and bound to be well received by the Food & Beverage sector.”

There has also been a £1,000 extension to rates relief for licensed trade businesses in England. Says James Shorthouse, “The business rate relief for local pubs will make the biggest difference. Business rates have been a burden on the sector for some time as they represent one of the biggest costs to landlords; so a £1,000 extension of the rate relief will be widely welcomed.”

Business rate increases in Scotland will be set by CPI (Consumer Price Index) from 2018.

However the Chancellor’s decision to increase the National Living Wage to £7.83 although good news for employees will also affect hospitality businesses already faced with increased costs.

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