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by Staff reporter
01 August 2023
Alcohol tax changes ‘squeezing the life’ from Scotch whisky sector

Alcohol tax changes ‘squeezing the life’ from Scotch whisky sector

The SNP has accused the UK Government of “squeezing the life” from the Scotch whisky industry after overhauling and increasing alcohol taxation. 

The changes, brought into force today, see higher strength alcohol taxed at a higher rate

Beverages with alcohol by volume (ABV) of 8.5 per cent or higher will fall into the highest tax bracket, meaning spirits – including whisky – are subject to a 10.1 per cent tax. 

Small business minister Richard Lochhead said: “We are once again seeing Scotland’s famous whisky industry being disproportionately impacted by a UK government Scotland did not vote for.” 

He added that the prime minister “seems determined to ignore these very legitimate concerns” from the sector.  

And SNP MP Brendan O’Hara, who represents Argyll and Bute – an area known for its distilleries – added: “The UK Government are squeezing the life out of Scotland’s whisky industry, which plays a significant role not just in my constituency, but for the bank balance of the UK Treasury…  

“Scotland's whisky producing, rural and island communities have been the goose laying the UK government’s golden eggs for too long – it’s time they were properly rewarded for the enormous contribution they’ve made.” 

The changes to alcohol duty were meant to come into force in February this year but were postponed due to the cost-of-living crisis. 

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the changes “catapults us into the 21st century” and would benefit the low-alcohol drinks sector. 

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has calculated that the change means the tax burden on an average price bottle of whisky is now 75 per cent. 

Graeme Littlejohn, director of strategy at the SWA, said: “This is a huge blow to an industry which supports 42,000 jobs across the UK.” 

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