Autumn budget: spirits duty frozen until August

Alcohol duty in the UK will be frozen until 1 August 2024, UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed in his autumn budget statement today (22 November).

Delivering his autumn budget speech in the Houses of Parliament in London, Hunt confirmed alcohol duty will be frozen until August 2024.

“That means no increase on duty on beer, cider, wine or spirits,” Hunt said.

The industry has been urging a duty freeze to support businesses in the drinks industry, particularly after the biggest alcohol tax hike in nearly 50 years came into effect on 1 August 2023.

The move to freeze alcohol duty was welcomed by trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Mark Kent, CEO of the SWA, said: “The industry is raising a dram to the chancellor’s decision to support Scotch whisky producers by returning to the duty freezes that have supported the industry, incentivised investment, and boosted Treasury revenue.

“With cost pressures hurting distillers large and small, the Treasury has provided some much-needed certainty and stability for the year ahead that will allow us get back to doing what we do best – making a world-class spirit, with a global reputation, which creates jobs and boosts growth here at home.

“Under the current duty system, Scotch whisky is still put at a disadvantage, based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how people consume alcohol and modern drinking trends.

“We want to continue the discussion with government about how the tax system can more closely reflect the number of units in a typical drink, rather than the strength of the finished product.

“Despite today’s duty freeze, cider is still taxed four times less than a spirit like Scotch whisky – this is not fair and cannot be justified.”

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Author: Melita Kiely