Fears over an increase in tax on Scotch Whisky in next week’s budget have led to calls from the sector to freeze duty in order to help maintain the industry’s growing export trade.
Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts has said the tax burden is too high, and likely to stifle growth rather than encourage it.
While overseas sales increased in the first half to £1.97 billion, a 10.8% rise on the same period last year, following a period of investment and new distillery openings, Ms Betts has urged Philip Hammond to help ensure investment continued to flow into the sector by ruling out any tax rises in his Budget at the end of the month.
“In order to flourish overseas, the industry needs support at home,” said Mrs Betts. “Competitive tax rates are crucial, enabling producers to start-up, scale-up and invest for growth, such that they continue to be the dynamic job-creators, employers, tax-generators and exporters that they are.
“Right now, £3 in every £4 spent on Scotch in the UK is collected in tax by HM Treasury. The industry believes this tax burden is too high, and is more likely to stifle growth than nurture it.
“That is why we are calling on the Chancellor to freeze duty on Scotch Whisky in the Autumn Budget.”
The volume of exports also increased by 5.6% to almost 558 million bottles, according to HMRC figures.