General Election 2017

SNP pledges to ‘review alcohol tax’

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

'Shifting the burden': the SNP manifesto pledges to conduct a review of alcohol taxation
'Shifting the burden': the SNP manifesto pledges to conduct a review of alcohol taxation
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has promised to conduct a review of alcohol taxation, while supporting moves to introduce minimum unit pricing (MUP), in its pre-election manifesto.

The policy impacts of any alcohol tax review are unclear but British and Scottish Beer and Pub Associations chief executive Brigid Simmonds suggested that it could mean the SNP wants to shift the alcohol tax burden to lower-strength drinks like beer, putting it at a disadvantage.

“Brewing and pubs support 58,000 jobs in Scotland. Furthermore, no other EU country taxes alcohol in this way, and the UK tax regime already places a higher burden on beer, relative to stronger drinks, than the tax systems of other EU countries,” she said.

Scotch whisky the key

Revising taxes so that lower-alcohol content drinks are subject to a higher rate of tax would potentially meet the SNP’s stated aim to protect one of Scotland’s key industries, Scotch whisky, which has a high alcohol content.

However, it was not clear from the SNP manifesto that this would be the result of a tax review and the party had not responded to calls for clarification by the time this article was published.

The devolved Scottish parliament passed the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 in June 2012, which included legislation governing the introduction of MUP. However, MUP has not yet been implemented due to a legal challenge led by the Scotch Whisky Association, which is due to be heard this summer.

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails, Legislation

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