Scotch Whisky Association calls time on heavy tax burden

Scotland’s whisky industry has called for an urgent cut in government taxes to help boost the drink’s value to the economy and safeguard jobs.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association

The Scotch Whisky Association wants a 2 per cent cut in spirits excise duty in the March budget to help the industry.

The sector already creates £5 billion a year for the UK economy and supports more than 40,000 jobs. It is now the largest net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade and without it the country’s deficit of £115 billion would be 3 per cent larger.

However, the industry trade body claims that while government support has boosted revenue for the Treasury, and encouraged at least 14 new distillery openings in the past three years, a tax of 77 per cent on an average bottle of Scotch is far too high.

“Scotch Whisky is one of the UK’s most strategically important industries. Without valuable Scotch exports of around £4 billion a year, the UK’s trade deficit in goods would be 3 per cent larger,” said Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch Whisky Association acting chief executive.

It is calculated that some 40,200 jobs are supported by the industry across the UK, including more than 10,500 people directly employed in Scotland earning salaries totalling almost £1.3bn a year.

“We are calling on the government to ‘Stand up for Scotch’ by addressing the high and unfair level of taxation distillers face in their home market,” said Ms Hesketh-Laird.

“The current tax of 77 per cent on an average priced bottle of Scotch is a burden on consumers and the industry. And the Government’s own figures indicate that fairer tax treatment leads to increased revenue for the public purse.”