Budget cheer

(by peter)


Peter on BBC2's Daily Politics with Eric Pickles

Peter on BBC2’s Daily Politics with Eric Pickles

In Wednesday’s budget, Chancellor George Osborne scrapped the alcohol duty escalator (ADE), a super tax that had been adding an automatic duty rise pegged at 2% above inflation to booze in recent years.

Sincere congratulations are due to the Call Time on Duty (CToD) campaign, backed by the Wine & Spirits Trade Association with the Taxpayers’ Alliance and Scotch Whisky Association. The wine and spirits trade has long lacked a cohesive front – wine especially being by nature a fragmented and disparate industry – so it was heartening to see this united front presenting a cogent and thoughtful argument that the chancellor eventually heeded.

Perhaps, some have suggested, it was an inkling of what was going to be announced that led Eric Pickles to be extremely coy when I went on Daily Politics to champion the CToD campaign. (You can see the footage from Daily Politics in the video below.)

I’m proud to have played a very small part in what was a much wider unified effort – most significantly, by all those who took the time to write into their MP to champion the cause. Democracy in action!

Call time on dutyOf course, it wasn’t all good news in the budget. Wine was left somewhat out in the cold – with duty still rising at inflation (anywhere between 2 and 3%) – while other drinks enjoyed better fortune. Beer enjoyed another reduction in duty while cider and spirits duty was frozen (as *ahem* I predicted it might here…).

So there is still work to be done to persuade the politicians to nurture our vibrant wine trade and stop penalising responsible drinkers with one of the most punitive tax regimes in Europe.

But, in the meantime, here’s raising a glass to the chancellor – and Mr Pickles.