BBPA warning on Scots tax plans

By John Harrington, M&C Report

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Executive brigid simmonds Alcoholic beverage Scotland United kingdom Brigid simmonds

Scotland: SNP wants a minimum price on alcohol
Scotland: SNP wants a minimum price on alcohol
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds has urged the Scottish National Party to reconsider its policies towards alcohol tax.

British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds has urged the Scottish National Party (SNP) to reconsider its policies towards alcohol tax that she said could damage the beer and pub industry.

She expressed concern about the SNP's tax plan that favours higher strength drinks, and First Minister Alex Sammond's proposal to raise taxes in order to force a 45p-per-unit minimum price.

The fears come amid efforts by the SNP, buoyed by a strong showing at this month's Scottish elections where it won a majority of seats, to take more control of tax policies from Westminster.

Speaking at the 33rd European Brewery Congress & Exhibition Centre in Glasgow, Simmonds urged Scotland to "get the policy framework right" and was "concerned about the direction that some aspects of alcohol policy in Scotland is now taking".

"The SNP's expressed wish to rebalance alcohol taxes in favour of higher-strength drinks is an area where more dialogue is needed.

"The vast majority of countries have tax regimes that provide more encouragement to consumers to switch to lower-strength drinks like beer — and we think this is the right direction of travel."

Minimum price

Simmonds added: "Using beer taxes to try to deliver a 45p a unit minimum price, as has been suggested, would mean that the tax burden on all drinks would have to rise, including drinks sold in pubs.

"The duty-plus-VAT burden on pub beer would more than double, with beer duty, plus the VAT on that duty, topping one pound a pint. That would hit the moderate majority hard in Scotland — and certainly make it top of the European League for beer tax

"Tax on beer in Britain is already eight times higher than in France, and twelve times higher than in Spain and Germany. What we need are policies that support moderate drinking in pubs, and tackle alcohol misuse among the minority of those who misuse alcohol.

"A new dialogue on these issues with the Scottish Government has never been more needed, and we will be working hard to achieve this in the coming months."

Simmonds said the beer and pub trade is worth £1.5bn to the Scottish economy every year, and 71,000 Scots depend on beer and pubs for work — double the number that depend on Scotch Whisky for work.

"It's an absolutely vital part of Scotland's economy - and we want to keep it that way," she said.

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