Hunt confirms alcohol duty freeze

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Autumn Statement 2023 (Credit: Getty/	Luis Davilla)
Autumn Statement 2023 (Credit: Getty/ Luis Davilla)

Related tags Legislation Government Finance

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday 22 November Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a freeze to alcohol duty until August next year.

As part of the Autumn Statement 2023, Hunt said he had "listened closely to persuasive arguments on duty" as well as "defenders of the Great British pint" and would freeze alcohol duty until 1 August 2024 for the on-trade in a bid to ensure prices for pubs would be lower than that of supermarkets. 

The Chancellor also confirmed the Government would continue to commit to the Brexit pubs guarantee. 

Hunt said the Government would make "difficult decisions to put the economy back on track", adding the Conservatives "plan for the economy is working but is not done". 

Huge relief 

In a social media post to X, formerly known as Twitter, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls hoped the move would be "helpful to ease cost pressures in supply chain".

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale told The Morning Advertiser:​ “The alcohol duty freeze and continued business rates discount​ comes as a huge relief to wine and spirit businesses and the hospitality sector who have taken a battering over the last few years. 

"With the added pressure of train strikes and as restaurants and pubs continuing to struggle to find staff for the festive period, we are extremely relieved the Government has listened to our pleas not to hit wine and spirit businesses and consumers with another painful duty increase.

"Customers are unable to swallow never ending price rises following the introduction of an entirely new alcohol tax regime and huge hike in August. Latest data shows a worrying decline in sales which would result in less revenue for the Exchequer.

New tax regime 

"We implore the Chancellor to lock in the freeze until at least the end of this Parliament. This will keep people in jobs and mean consumers will still be able to enjoy a drink at a price they can afford.”

In addition, Beale stated a second duty rise "would have been disastrous" for the industry. 

Kingsland Drinks managing director Ed Baker added: “We are relieved the Chancellor has decided to not hamstring the UK wine and spirits sector even more by a further excise increase. 

"The recent August increases are making the UK consumer pay some of the highest alcohol taxes in Europe which are now filtering through to higher pricing for them and lower sales for us; an additional rise would have damaged our industry even further.”

Diageo managing director Nuno Teles added the firm would "raise a glass" to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister following the Statement. 

Teles continued: "[They] have listened to the industry’s plea for support and decided to back our homegrown sector that employs so many people across the UK. Drinkers and pub-goers across the country now have even more reason to celebrate this festive season."

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