Q&A: ALMR and BII on supporting Drop the Duty campaign

By Mike Berry

- Last updated on GMT

The Drop the Duty campaign is calling for a 2% cut in alcohol duty
The Drop the Duty campaign is calling for a 2% cut in alcohol duty

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The Drop the Duty campaign is calling on Chancellor George Osborne to cut alcohol duty by 2% in the forthcoming Budget. The campaign has recently been supported by both the Association of Licensed Retailers and British Institute of Innkeeping. Here we find out why.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls and BII chief executive Tim Hulme take part in a joint Q&A on why their organisations back the campaign.

Why are you supporting the campaign?

The eating and drinking-out market has changed noticeably over the past decade with pubs, bars and restaurants adapting, not only to external pressures and opportunities, but also evolving customer demands. ALMR members are increasingly placing a premium on wine and spirits offers to cater for their customers and develop their USPs. Taxes for the eating and drinking out market are already significant and government support has the ability to support licensed hospitality businesses.

Duty is a producers’ tax, so what difference would a cut make on an operational level for multiple and single-site licensed retailers?

The Drop the Duty campaign will be a success for operators if the cost saving is passed on by producers and we are encouraging wine and spirits producers to embrace the campaign and its benefits. Firstly, we need to convince government of the benefits of the cut and we are working hard to ensure that any support will be felt at the ground level. Additionally, a more robust wine and spirits industry in the UK will have a knock-on effect for the hospitality businesses that account for such a significant amount of their trade.

What impact do you estimate a cut would have on the sector?

A 2% cut in alcohol duty would support an industry directly employing over half a million people and contributing £22bn annually to the UK economy. Furthermore, wine and spirits account for 42% of the value of products sold in pubs, bars and restaurants in the UK. We are currently looking at over 200,000 licensed premises in the UK so this is represents a significant contribution. The knock-on effect from a 2% cut will be felt across the UK and benefit every local economy.

Why should PMA​ readers care about this campaign?

Even if it not their primary source of income, licensees will be well aware of the importance of wines and spirits to their businesses and their customers. The Drop the Duty campaign aims to make these very products more affordable not just for producers, but operators as well. We hope that PMA​ readers, licensees and customers get right behind the campaign as the benefit will be felt right down the chain.

It will also send a strong signal to the Government that the licensed hospitality sector has a serious message and can present a strong, united front when it comes to campaigning on the issues that matter. Twenty-six million people regularly drink wine and spirits in pubs, bars and restaurants in the UK. Wine and spirits are important to our customers so they should be absolutely crucial for licensed hospitality businesses.

What can they do to get involved?

PMA​ readers can visit the campaign website​ to download fact sheets and other resources. Operators and customers can also use the website to email their MP ahead of the General Election to make them aware of the campaign and press the issue.

Do you support the campaign to cut beer duty as well?

Any drop in duty or support from Government that can be felt by our members certainly has the support of the ALMR. We have been very vocal in our calls for a fair, free and flexible marketplace for pubs, bars and restaurants and we will continue to push for a better deal for our members, for whom beer is an extremely important asset.

How supportive do you feel the Government is of the licensed hospitality industry?

The Government had cut beer duty for the previous two years, continues to look at issues surrounding red tape that affect the sector and has promised a fundamental review of business rates. There is certainly support for hospitality and the Government is hearing our message that we are a key driver of growth in the economy and a major employer across the UK.

There is more that the Government can do to support hospitality businesses and that is why we are behind the Drop the Duty campaign and continue to push for support for our members.

For more information visit the Drop the Duty website.

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