Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association has commended the drinks industry for uniting behind the WSTA’s Drop the Duty! campaign and producing a compelling case for a 2% cut in duty.
In a blog for Harpers.co.uk ahead of Wednesday’s Budget, Beale thanked Harpers readers for their valiant support and said the campaign had made its voice heard in Westminster. He estimated that around 90% of all MPs had been approached and around 95% of Tory MPs had received a number of emails urging them to back the campaign.
“I am confident our voice has been heard loudly and understood well. We must hope that the Chancellor has listened and that his Budget enables our rightly proud industry ‘to play its part in the UK’s recovery’,” Beale said. “To an even greater extent than last year, we have presented a united industry front, while at the same time showcasing the rich diversity of our wonderful industry.”
Beale argued a key step in this year’s campaign was making effective use of independent economic evidence to show the potential a cut would have in enhanced contribution to the public finances and GDP, and its effect in job creation in pubs and the wider hospitality. “This is perhaps the biggest gain from two broad based, economically evidence-based and relentlessly positive tax campaigns in two years,” he said. “No one, either at the Treasury or in Parliament, has dismissed the figures or seriously challenged our arguments.”
He said this had not only boosted the credibility of the campaign’s compelling case, but was a reflection of the standing of the industry in the eyes of government and Parliament.
“It fills me with hope and confidence that the industry is in a far better place at the end of this Parliament than it was at its halfway stage,” he added.
Senior trade figures have rallied behind the campaign that was coordinated by the WSTA and the Scotch Whisky Association and had the support of the Tax Payer’s Alliance. Major suppliers who threw their support behind the campaign included Bibendum PLB, Enotria and Hallgarten Druitt, as well as representatives from the hospitality and off-license sectors, British Institute of Innkeeping, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers. Independent merchants, English wine producers and small artisan brands also figured prominently in the press campaign.
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