Belfast Telegraph

Whisky sales help add £100m to Treasury coffers

Whisky sales across the UK have helped boost Treasury coffers by more than £100 million, latest figures show.

Tax on spirits, including whisky, for the 12 months to the end of October contributed an extra £101 million to the public purse compared to the same period last year, taking the yearly total raised to around £3.2 billion.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said tax reductions and freezes on spirits have helped both consumers and taxpayers, but claimed the duty paid on Scotch whisky is still "unfair" at around three-quarters of the cost of an average bottle.

The amount spirits bring in to the Treasury has increased since the Government scrapped its policy of increasing excise by inflation plus an additional 2% - the alcohol duty escalator - in 2014.

A 2% cut the following year on duty paid on spirits increased annual revenues by £123 million and this year's Budget freeze on spirits excise means receipts from spirits duty are now £155 million higher a year than before the escalator was dropped.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, acting chief executive of the SWA, said: "Easing the duty regime on Scotch whisky has helped customers, businesses and taxpayers. The boost to public funds is the result of a successful policy.

"Scotch is one of the UK's most important industries, supporting around 40,000 jobs and contributing £5 billion to the economy each year. Government support for industry helps to give small businesses, as well as larger producers, confidence in the future.

"However, the SWA believes that despite the promising signs of recent years, more is required, particularly during a period of pre-Brexit uncertainty. More than three quarters (77%) of the average price paid for a bottle of whisky is tax - excise and VAT.

"The current tax rates remain unfair and we believe that there is an opportunity for the Chancellor to bring cheer to consumers and boost the Treasury's coffers next year."

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