British pubs, bars and restaurants, including those across the Bradford district, could be £100 million worse off under Government plans to raise alcohol duties, according to figures released by an industry campaign group.
The Call Time On Duty campaign is calling for the Chancellor George Osborne to scrap the Alcohol Duty Escalator, which increases tax on alcohol by two per cent above inflation, in the March Budget.
The group – led by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the Scotch Whisky Association and The TaxPayers’ Alliance – claims the industry will be hit with an additional £100m tax bill unless the escalator is removed, something they state independent research has found would actually boost Government finances by £230m and create about 6,000 jobs.
The campaign is supported Gary Peacock, general manager of the Midland Hotel in Cheapside, Bradford, who said about four in ten of alcohol sales in its restaurant and bar could be attributed to wines and spirits.
“This tax has got to stop as it just makes the hospitality sector look more and more expensive,” he said. “Alcohol duty is just an easy tax hit, but it can’t keep going up as, ultimately, it will cost people’s jobs.”
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “George Osborne has committed to helping pubs, bars and restaurants, and he can do so this by abandoning plans to hike up their tax bill. Calling a halt to the alcohol super tax and ending the duty escalator will help businesses, improve Government finances and create jobs. It’s time to call time on duty.”
In last year’s Budget, instead of a planned 3p price rise, the Chancellor cancelled the duty escalator on beer in attempt to redress pub closures, citing the fact that 10,000 had closed in a decade. That included more than 100 across the Bradford district.
The escalator on wines and spirits remains in place and at a Parliamentary reception this week, MPs heard that since the escalator was introduced in 2008, duty has increased by half for wine and 44 per cent for spirits.
Andrew Allison, The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s spokesman for Yorkshire, said: “Taxpayers will be rightly outraged that, on average, 79p in every pound they spend on a bottle of spirits and 57p in every pound spent on a bottle of wine now goes to the taxman.
“The Chancellor did the right thing for beer drinkers last year by scrapping the escalator on beer tax, he should now do right by those of us who enjoy a glass of wine or something stronger and scrap these ridiculous guaranteed tax hikes once and for all.”
According to Office for National Statistics figures, the wine and spirit industry supported 475,000 jobs in the UK in 2012, contributing more than £40 billion to the economy.