Fears over major cider duty hike

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cider Tax National association of cider makers

The price of cider could soar after next month's Budget as fears mount the government will single out the category for a major tax hike. All alcohol...

The price of cider could soar after next month's Budget as fears mount the government will single out the category for a major tax hike.

All alcohol trade groups are bracing themselves for another wave of duty increases, on top of the two per cent duty escalator.

But cider makers are particularly fearful of the treatment they will receive - despite arguing their case at a meeting with Treasury officials this week.

These fears are based on last December's Pre-Budget Report (PBR), when the government announced it would review duty on cider after pressure to realign rates with beer tax.

The results of the review are due to be announced at the Budget in a month's time.

Henry Chevallier Guild, chairman of the National Association of Cider Makers and partner at premium cider producer Aspall, who attended last week's meeting, said the group had to be realistic.

"The fact it's been brought up in the PBR indicates we will get something more than anyone else," he told The Publican.

"But we hope with the case we've put in they will limit it to the bare minimum.

"However, if the increase is to pre-2001 levels it would be pretty catastrophic."

During last year's recent Health select committee inquiry duty rates on cider were branded an "anomaly" - and it seems the government is determined to address the situation. The concern is more around industrial strength cider, but the whole category could be affected.

Currently duty on a pint of a five per cent beer is 46p, while on an equivalent strength cider it is 18p.

Bernie White, licensee at the Retreat, in Reading, CAMRA's regional cider pub of the year, said any increase could force up prices. "It could make a significant difference," he said.

Fifteen MPs signed a parliamentary motion tabled last December calling on cider duties to be brought into line with beer.

Jonathan Mail, head of policy and public affairs at CAMRA, said in its Budget submission the group has called for measures to protect small cider producers if there is a tax increase.

Meanwhile, brewers appear keen for cider to be re-aligned with beer on duty.

The Publican understands the British Beer & Pub Association will meet with the Treasury next week to puts its case forward for the Budget.

Communications director Mark Hastings said: "One thing we are looking for is closer alignment on beer and cider duty."

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association also said last week it feared the worst on overall alcohol taxes.

Chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: "Enough is enough. We know the public finances are in difficulty but pushing up prices with higher taxes does nothing to help British consumers or businesses battling to recover from the recession."

Related topics Cider

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