UK’s unfair alcohol tax highlighted as PM attends EU Council

When David Cameron raises a toast at the next meeting of the EU Council on 23 October, the irony won’t be lost on UK consumers that they currently pay 67% of all wine duties levied in the EU.

UK consumers pay almost €12.5bn in alcohol duty a year. This accounts for 38% of all alcohol duty paid by consumers across EU member states.

Thanks to the UK’s astronomically high rates of duty on alcohol, the UK pays more in alcohol duty than Germany, France, Poland, Italy and Spain combined.

Per capita, the UK pays €194 in alcohol duty, the third highest in the EU and 2.8 times the average of €70, yet the UK’s per capita consumption is now less than the European average.

The UK pays 67% of all wine duties in the EU, 43% of sparkling wine duties, a quarter of all spirits.

In comparison to the UK’s staggering 38% share of the EU’s alcohol duty, here is how the next highest countries fare: 

  • Germany 10%

  • France 9%

  • Poland 8%

  • Spain 3% 

  • Italy 3%

Miles Beale, CEO of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:

“It is clear that the average UK consumer is getting a very rough deal, compared with consumers in the rest of the EU. Even after the Government’s welcome abolition of the alcohol duty escalator in the 2014 Budget, the current rate of duty being paid by UK consumers remains extremely high.

Let’s hope that as the Prime Minister toasts his European counterparts he will pause to consider the unfairness of the UK’s high levels of duty and the positive impact that a reduction in duty would have on jobs and growth.” 

Notes to Editors:

In the 2014 Budget, the UK Government removed the alcohol duty escalator, cut beer duty by 2% for the second consecutive year and froze spirits and cider duty but increased wine duty by the rate of inflation (2.47%).

The alcohol duty escalator was introduced in 2008 and increased the duty on alcohol by 2% above inflation.

Since 2008, the duty on wine has increased by 54% and for spirits by 44%.  

The wine and spirit sector directly and indirectly supports over 475,000 UK jobs. 

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