UK Wine Trade Escapes Another Damaging Tax Rise

Despite widespread rumours to the contrary, Wednesday brought the news that the UK is to escape another tax hike that would have meant that the government's share of the price of any bottle would have risen by nearly a third since July.

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Another UK tax hike? (Photo: Tomasz Warszewski/
Another UK tax hike? (Photo: Tomasz Warszewski/

The decision by the British Supreme Court that Britain's plan to have Rwanda handle the asylum claims of migrants who had arrived on its shores 'illegally' was in contravention of UK and international law, came as a heavy blow to a UK administration that had placed this policy at the heart of their effort to get re-elected in the forthcoming elections.

This defeat explains the increased and urgent need to pull another electoral rabbit out of the hat, in the shape of tax cuts. To finance this, it was expected that Britain’s already-punishing levels of excise duty would have to rise even further.

This prospect prompted many in the UK trade to mount a vigorous campaign to persuade the Chancellor not to raise taxes on the already-beleagured drinks and hospitality industries.

“One tax rise in a year is alarming, two is unacceptable.”

In an online post, Steve Finlan, CEO of the Wine Society, one of the UK’s leading wine specialists, said “After the biggest rise in [excise] duty in 50 years, implemented in August, the Government is now proposing a further rise this month of up to 8.8%. This would mean a 30% hike in wine duty since 31st July 2023. This represents an assault on wine consumers, wine retailers, and wine producers and threatens the survival of many businesses at a time when consumer confidence is slowly returning”

Finlan went on to say that “One tax rise in a year is alarming, two is unacceptable.”

In the event, the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, announced on November 22 that current excise duty rates will be frozen - at least until August 2024 UK. UK drinks professionals and those for whom Britain is a key export market, are breathing a sigh of relief, while remembering that next August is not that far away...

Insights Wine

In the 1980s and 1990s, the United Kingdom was the world’s most valuable and influential export market for wine. Largely as a result of increased competition from other countries, more recently exacerbated by Brexit, it has lost that role. A new tax regime will make it even less attractive to exporters. Robert Joseph reports.

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