White ciders targeted as duty frozen on wine and beer

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A duty freeze on wine, spirits, beer and ciders other than high-strength, low-quality alcohol has been welcomed as a "win win" for consumers, producers and the Treasury.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said plans to legislate to increase duties on so-called "white ciders" from 2019 targeted "excessive consumption by the most vulnerable people".

He said: "Recognising the pressure on household budgets and backing our great British pubs, duties on other ciders, wine, spirits and on beer will be frozen.

"This will mean a bottle of whisky will be £1.15 less in 2018 than if we had continued with Labour's plans. A pint of beer will also be 12p less, so Merry Christmas Mr Deputy Speaker."

Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) chief executive Miles Beale said: "We are pleased that the Chancellor has found his festive spirit and listened to the call from the WSTA and its members and has frozen wine and spirit duty.

"He has shown the Government is in touch with what consumers want and is supporting an industry which is proving to be a real asset to British business.

"He has recognised that rebalancing the UK's excessive duty rates is a win/win for both the Treasury, the wine and spirit trade - not to mention consumers.

"This decision will be celebrated by millions who will raise a glass this festive season."

British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds tweeted: "Freezing beer duty is an early Christmas present for beer drinkers and pub goers worth over £100 million.

"Thank you Chancellor for listening to our campaign. Beer drinkers will raise a glass tonight."

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) also welcomed the decision, describing it as a "show of support for a major UK manufacturing industry and its supply chain, and for the 40,000 jobs Scotch Whisky supports across the UK".

However, it noted that tax - VAT and excise duty - on an average-priced bottle of Scotch Whisky in the UK remained at 80%, "meaning more than £10 on a bottle goes straight to the Treasury".

The Chancellor confirmed the tobacco duty escalator will continue at inflation plus 2%, with an additional 1% duty on hand rolling tobacco this year.