Retailers join WSTA call for duty and VAT cut

Retailers Adnams and Duncan Murray Wines are among a number of small drinks companies who have signed an open letter from the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, urging Rishi Sunak to cut wine and spirit duty and extend hospitality’s VAT cut to alcoholic drinks.

The signatories include producers, importers, distributors and retailers who are also wholesale suppliers to the hospitality sector.

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association said concerned owners of small and medium-sized wine and spirit businesses had seen their businesses take a major hit from the closure of hospitality.

Such firms have not been eligible to benefit from the loans and support packages offered by the government to pubs, bars and restaurants.

The list of 21 signatories includes Foxhole Spirits, Chapel Down, ABS Wine Agencies, Rathfinny Estate, Ridgeview Wine Estate, Goedhuis, Cotswold Distillery and Union Distillers.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “This Budget [on March 3] comes at a crucial time for British wine and spirit SMEs who have had to batten down the hatches once again as the country sits out a third lockdown without any confidence in knowing when it might end.

“The new and developing trading landscape since January 1 has also put pressure on small and medium size businesses who are picking up the tab for additional import costs and red tape.

“SMEs have worked hard, despite drastic dips to their income, to support communities through efforts like making hand sanitiser and free local deliveries.

“Britain has some of the world’s highest alcohol tax rates, and it is extremely unfair to pass on more pain to cash-strapped consumers and to SMEs fighting to keep their businesses afloat.”

Tamara Roberts, chief executive of Ridgeview Wine Estate, added: “We would like to see more government support for businesses like ours who want to continue to grow and fly the flag for English wine on the global stage.

“A duty cut at the Budget would give SMEs like ours some breathing space in order to recover following the closure of the hospitality sector.

“The UK’s duty rates are ridiculously high compared to France. We’d like to see similar support from our government through low duty to help nurture the ambitious UK wine industry.”

Mark Gamble, managing director Union Distillers, added: “The hospitality business has been hit extremely hard by the pandemic and some businesses will not recover.

“Every help is needed to get those that survive to bounce back quickly. A reduction in duty will increase margins for the industry, helping to recovering Covid losses and ensuring full employment of staff.”

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