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Campaigners urge action from Chancellor

Whisky sales slump prompts further call for tax cut

whiskyScotch whisky producers have stepped up their campaign for a cut in tax after new figures revealed that sales in Britain slumped by almost 5% last year.

The industry is urging the Chancellor, George Osborne, to cut duty in the Budget next week to avoid a further decline in sales.

It says that a 2% cut in tax would boost tax revenues by increasing activity and customer demand.

Figures published today by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) reveal that the number of 70cl bottles of Scotch released for sale in the UK last year fell 4.78% to 83.3 million from 87.5m in 2013.

Since 2009 the UK market for Scotch has shrunk by 9.5% from 92m bottles, according to the figures from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The SWA said this is further evidence that the onerous level of taxation of 78% as a share of the price of an average bottle of Scotch is damaging a domestic industry that is of great importance to the economy.  According to research published this year on the economic impact of Scotch Whisky, the industry adds value of £5 billion to the UK each year and supports more than 40,000 jobs.

In last year’s Budget, the alcohol duty escalator was scrapped and duty on spirits was frozen. The move was welcomed by the industry. The SWA says a duty cut this year would assist growth across the entire Scotch Whisky industry.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “Scotch Whisky is a massive export success for the UK so it’s obviously disappointing to see this decline in volumes in our domestic market. In next week’s Budget the Chancellor has the perfect opportunity to support an important UK industry. He should cut spirits duty by 2%. This move would also benefit consumers and public finances.

“In last year’s Budget, the Chancellor highlighted Scotch Whisky as a ‘huge British success story’. We hope this year too he will show his support for this world-class manufacturing industry.”

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