MP's fury at hidden whisky rise in pre-budget

SNP Westminster Leader, Angus Robertson MP, has expressed anger as it emerged the 8% increase in duty on spirits amounts to a 29p increase in the cost of a bottle of whisky.

Following today’s announcement contained in the Pre-Budget Report, the excise on an averaged 70cl bottle at 40% is now £6.45. Even factoring in the VAT reduction, the duty burden has increased from £7.42 to £7.71.

Mr Robertson’s Moray constituency contains more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries and he is Vice-Chairman of the All-Party Scotch Whisky Industry Group.

Speaking from the House of Commons tonight (Monday), Mr Robertson said:

"The whisky sector is one of Scotland's key industries both in export, earnings and employment terms, and the Treasury has a responsibility to support it.

"In his statement, the Chancellor did not even have the decency to specifically mention his tax increase on the whisky industry. The bad news was buried deep in the Pre-Budget Report.

"What’s worse, this is the second smash and grab raid by the Chancellor within a year.

"It is totally unacceptable that this vital industry should become a casualty to Alistair Darling’s desperate attempts to resuscitate the UK economy.

"Recent statistics have shown that international demand for Scotch whisky is growing, however the UK market is very fragile and this steep rise will endanger industry investment and competitiveness.

"This announcement comes at a time when distillers face rising energy and raw material costs. The Treasury should be supporting the whisky industry, not punishing it."

The SNP has made the case for the fair taxation on whisky, based on equal treatment to drinks based on alcoholic content after the Chancellor’s "bombshell" Budget in March 2008 which increased the duty on a bottle of whisky by 59p – the highest increase the rate of duty on whisky since 1975.

Duty per litre of alcohol has increased by £1.79 to £21.35, higher than the increases of £1.58 in 1991 and £1.61 in 1992. In April 1975, the equivalent duty per litre increased by £1.95 (the rate was set per proof gallon).

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