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UK alcohol tax rises for higher ABV beverages
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

2 August 2023

UK alcohol tax rises for higher ABV beverages

Many alcoholic drinks will now cost more in the UK after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, introduced a new alcohol duty yesterday (1 August). All alcoholic beverages will be taxed in line with alcohol by volume (ABV), rather than the type of alcohol as was the case in the previous duty system. However, the rises mean that duty will lower on supermarket shelves for many alcoholic beverages, including bottles of pale ale, pre-mixed gin and tonic and prosecco Lower taxes will be enforced on low-alcohol products – those below 3.5% ABV in strength, and all drinks above 8.5% ABV will pay the same rate regardless of product type. In a news release, the previous duty system was described as “complex and unfair”. The new system, however, is said to “support wider UK tax and public health objectives”. Sunak said: “I want to support the drinks and hospitality industries that are helping to grow the economy and the consumers who enjoy the end result. Not only will today’s changes mean that the price of your pint in the pub is protected, but it will also benefit thousands of businesses across the country.” He added: “We have taken advantage of Brexit to simplify the duty system, to reduce the price of a pint, and to back British pubs”. The government is also introducing ‘Small Producer Relief’, which replaces and extends the previous Small Brewers Relief scheme, which was introduced to reduce rates of beer duty for small brewers. The scheme allows small businesses that produce alcoholic products with an ABV of less than 8.5% to be eligible for reduced rates of alcohol duty on qualifying products. It is said to give small producers “the financial freedom to experiment with new types of drink and grow their business”. Barry Watts, head of policy and public affairs at Society of Independent Brewers, commented: “These are the most significant changes to the alcohol duty system for generations which will have far-reaching implications for what we order in the pub and what appears on the shop shelves. It is the culmination of five years of consultation on the future of Small Breweries’ Relief – a scheme that has made the huge growth of craft breweries possible over the past twenty years. “These changes will finally address the ‘cliff edge’ which was a barrier to small breweries growing and build on the scheme’s success by applying it to other alcoholic products below 8.5%.”

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