Call of Duty… but not in good way 

Apologies, as I’m about to clamber onto my soap box again and have a little rant about new government legislation coming in on August 1st.

After many tough years, hospitality has to jump through another financial hoop imposed by a seemingly apathetic government. As the cost of living teeters on the brink, we have another fiscal burden, with changes to alcohol duty rates, making it more expensive to enjoy our favourite tipple.

Looking at the YouGov website it is pretty bewildering trying to work out the exact duty prices based on the new rate of £28.50 per litre of alcohol for wines between 11.5% and 14.5% ABV.

So, we’ve broken it down as follows:

  • The duty on a still bottle of 75cl wine with the ABV between 11.5% and 14.5% will increase by 44p per bottle.
  • The duty on a 75cl bottle of sparkling wine with an ABV between 11.5% and 14.5% will be reduced by 18p per bottle.
  • The duty on a 75cl bottle of sparkling wine with an ABV at 11% will be reduced by 50p per bottle.
  • Wines over 14.5% ABV, including fortified wines, up to 22% ABV, the duty will be calculated on the actual ABV. For example the duty increase on a 75cl bottle of 15% ABV wine is 98p, while a typical 20% ABV Port will increase by £1.30 a bottle.
  • On spirits, the new rate for alcohol over 22% abv will be £31.64 per litre of alcohol. A typical 70cl bottle with an ABV of 40% the duty will increase by 81p.
  • The standard rate of duty on packaged beer and cider will increase by 10.1%.

Clear as mud!

The cost of duty on a ‘typical’ bottle of wine will be £2.67 before you take VAT, packaging and finally the wine inside into consideration.

This cost burden must be carried by our industry and, of course our customers and continues to chip away at consumer confidence and their ever-diminishing pot of cash.

This disproportionate muddying of the waters at a time when most households are struggling to find parity and some respite from price rises left, right and centre, is unwanted and unnecessary.

Hospitality has been hit with all manner of obstacles to recover from the devastation of the pandemic, from energy costs, food inflation and staff issues, and now to deal with yet another blow, is almost cruel in its execution.

It’s almost like we are seen as an easy target and this constant squeezing until the pips squeak is unsustainable.

Previously seen as somewhat of a luxury, eating out has become such an important part of our lives and especially after the isolation after Covid, it keeps us socially connected.

And as the landscape of our town centres change from retail-domination to more and more reliance on hospitality and leisure, it’s key that businesses are supported, not penalised.

Come on now, give us a break!


Neil Cammies

Former columnist for the Western Mail and is now working for Fine Wines Direct UK. Hosting tastings, building client relationships, and writing about his experiences in the wine trade.

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