Proposal for duty rise on whisky 'tweaked'

Chancellor Alistair Darling is to change his plan for a duty increase on Scotch whisky after protests from the industry, it was revealed today.



He is expected to table official papers later today which will reduce the planned 8 per cent rise in excise duty.

Whisky producers complained that the increase, even combined with a 2.5 per cent cut in VAT, would put 29p on the price of a bottle of whisky.

The order enshrining the 8 per cent rise was published on Monday - and it noted that "no impact on the private or public sectors is foreseen".

But sources confirmed Mr Darling will today lay a further order which will ensure that the tax paid on a bottle will remain "broadly" unchanged.

The move was described as a "tweak" rather than a climbdown.

A Treasury spokesman said: "As the Chancellor has said, what he intends is to ensure that broadly what people pay in tax on whisky, or any other alcohol, is the same next week as it was last week."

The move was welcomed by the industry.

Campbell Evans, of the Scotch Whisky Association, told BBC Radio Scotland: "I am delighted that this appears to be revisited.

"I'm sure this is an error that crept in and the Government is taking quick steps to address that and the industry will welcome that very much."

The industry has been particularly critical as the rise would have been the second this year.

After Mr Darling's Pre-Budget Report on Monday, the association said: "There is no logic to any duty increase.

"Alcohol revenues have already fallen by £40 million this year on the back of the 9 per cent excise rise in March."

In broadcast interviews yesterday, Mr Darling insisted his aim was to keep alcohol taxation "broadly" the same but, while VAT was charged on price, duty was charged on alcohol content so there was not an exact match.

SNP MP Angus Robertson, whose Moray constituency is a major whisky-producing area, said: "We need to see the detail of what Alistair Darling is proposing but hopefully he is U-turning on this damaging tax hike on one of Scotland's key industries.

"It would be a huge blow to the Chancellor's credibility if he is forced into a climbdown when the ink on the Pre-Budget Report is barely dry, and it suggests that he didn't understand the impact of his own PBR measures on Scotland."



The British Beer and Pub Association contacted the Treasury to demand "fair treatment" for beer following the announcement that the duty increase on whisky is to be reduced.

Any tax changes announced for whisky and spirits should apply to the whole alcohol sector, said the Association.

It rejected Mr Darling's claim that alcohol duty increases would merely offset the temporary reduction in VAT, insisting that they will in fact result in price increases, with beer suffering the second highest overall tax rise in off-licences.





During an emergency House of Commons debate on the Pre-Budget Report, Mr Darling confirmed the duty changes to MPs.

He said: "I said on Monday that what I wanted to do was to make sure that the level of taxation on alcohol and on cigarettes remained the same so that broadly the reduction in VAT would be cancelled out by the change in duty.

"I think in relation to spirits, what we announced on Monday didn't actually achieve that.

"So I am tabling a further order today to ensure that spirits, the duty there, is at a slightly lower rate, which I think will hugely benefit the spirits industry wherever it is."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Planner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - C#, ASP.Net, MVC, jQuery

£42000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a C# ...

Recruitment Genius: General Driver - Automotive

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food