Duties on spirits, wine and beer will be frozen, but the tax on “low-cost, low-quality” products such as white cider will increase in 2019, according to Philip Hammond in his second Budget as chancellor. A pint of beer will now cost 12p less on average and a bottle of whisky £1 less as a result of the freezing of duty.
Britain’s alcohol is among the most heavily taxed in the world; it has the third highest duty rate for wine, and fourth-highest for spirits.
The news comes as the UK Supreme Court approved Scotland’s minimum price for alcohol last week. Ministers said that a 50p-per-unit minimum would help tackle Scotland’s “unhealthy relationship with drink” by raising the price of cheap, high-strength alcohol.
A challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association was rejected. The association had claimed that the move was a “restriction on trade” and that there were more effective ways of tackling alcohol misuse.
Ministers are now expected to make Scotland the first country in the world to establish a minimum price per unit of alcohol, due to start on 1st May 2018. The Scottish government believes cracking down on cheap alcohol will help tackle the country’s binge-drinking culture. However, the move is not a duty increase. Any extra cash from the price hike will go to the retailer.