Throughout the general election, the UK Spirits Alliance has been raising awareness of the industry amongst candidates and would-be MPs so they are aware of the impact of high taxes on our iconic British spirits.

As the general election continues, it’s been great to see commitments from across the political spectrum to support our thriving sector. However, we want to urge politicians to remember that pubs are more than just pints, recognising the huge contribution that spirits make to the UK economy.

The UK Spirits Alliance has been busy engaging parliamentary candidates throughout this election by inviting them to visit their local distilleries and independent pubs to discuss the importance of the spirits industry for the UK economy and hospitality sector.

The invitation makes clear that by backing British spirits, a new government would not only be supporting one of our most exciting and innovative sectors, but it would be helping fill the Treasury’s coffers.

The UKSA has gathered a powerful set of facts and figures to make it’s case:

  • The UKSA data drop shows the industry supports over 446,000 jobs and contributes £13 billion to the UK economy. It’s also a tourist magnet bringing in thousands of visitors each year.
  • The Alliance argues that spirits are vital for hospitality, as they make up one-third of all alcoholic drinks sales in hospitality settings and generate substantial revenues for the hospitality sector across the board. Recent polling found 66% of pub owners state that spirits generate a higher profit margin per serving than beer.
  • On 1 August 2023, duty on spirits rose by 10.1%, representing the largest increase in spirits duty since the 1980s. Polling shows that the vast majority of the population are shocked to learn that 80% of a bottle of gin is tax.
  • The majority of the public (56%) say they have reduced the number of times they eat or drink out due to affordability. Inflation in the price of gin shot up from 5% in July to 10.0% in September and remains at 6.9%.
  • High duty rates are damaging the hospitality sector. According to recent polling 16% of pubs say they are unlikely to be open in 12 months’ time. Meanwhile, four in five (83%) report declining profits, two in three (67%) report declining footfall, 97% have experienced increased costs and 72% a decline in sales.
  • A stable duty and lower duty regime would provide additional revenue for the Treasury. The latest data on alcohol duty receipts (August 2023 to April 2024) shows that overall, receipts are £114 million (3.7%) lower, compared to the same period in 2022-2023.

Distillers are supporting the campaign and backing the UK Spirits Alliance invites to candidates.

Hilary Whitney – Co-Founder of Sacred Spirits and UK Spirits Alliance member, said:

“Politicians need to realise that pubs are more than just pints. A third of all alcoholic drinks served in a pub are spirits, yet they are taxed the highest. A whopping 80% of each bottle of gin currently goes to the taxman.

At this election, it is important all politicians back our iconic British spirits industry to protect pubs at home and help grow exports abroad”.

Stephen Russell – Founder, Copper Rivet Distillery, added:

“Businesses need stability and backing. We’re not asking for handouts – we are asking the next government to roll back recent punitive tax hikes on spirits. And to revise the duty framework which remains complex and unfair to distillers.

“The next government has an opportunity to support one of Britain’s most exciting and innovative sectors as well as the hospitality industry, a vital part of our communities across the country.

“A sensible and fair duty system and consistent backing from the government will ensure our spirits sector thrives, innovates, and helps Britain grow.”

Kathy Caton MBE – Managing Director, Brighton Gin, said:

“The Craft Distilling industry has been a British success story – but in order to for the sector to keep developing and growing, businesses like mine need to know we have the backing of the next government. I know other proud independent producers of British spirits feel the same way.

“A new government would be supporting one of Britain’s most exciting and innovative sectors as well as the hospitality industry, a vital part of our communities across the country, and with the great British pub, one of the things that the UK is famous for world-wide.

“A stable duty system and consistent backing from the government will ensure our spirits sector thrives, innovates, and helps Britain grow.”

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