UK tax hike on Scotch has already cost Treasury £115m

The 10.1% increase in excise duty imposed by the UK government on Scotch Whisky in August 2023 — the biggest rise in more than four decades — has already cost the UK Treasury nearly £115 million in tax revenue, according to Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The SWA has urged all political parties to show their support for the Scottish economy by ruling out further increases in excise duty on the UK’s biggest food and drink export.

The Association has made the call for support as new polling from Survation found that 86% of Scots believe Scotch is important to the Scottish economy, with 90% stating it’s important for exports and 91% believing Scotch is important for Scottish tourism.

UK excise duty on Scotch Whisky is the highest in the G7 and more than double the average duty rate across European nations.

About 73% of the cost of a bottle of Scotch Whisky in the UK is currently claimed in tax, and Scotch Whisky is taxed more per unit of alcohol than beer, wine or cider.

“The industry continues to suffer from a whopping 10.1 percent increase in excise duty in August 2023 – the biggest rise in more than four decades, which has lost the Treasury nearly £115 million in tax revenue already,” said the SWA. 

“The Scotch Whisky industry generates £7.1 billion a year for the UK economy, with £5.6 billion in exports and over two million visits to distilleries a year.

“The Scotch Whisky Association is calling on the next government to reduce the excise duty burden on spirits in line with the European Union average by the end of the next parliament.”

SWA CEO Mark Kent said: “Scotch Whisky is a cornerstone of the Scottish economy. This poll shows that Scots recognise that, and want candidates across political parties to recognise it too.

“That means ruling out further increases in excise duty after last year’s devastating tax hike, which has ultimately cost the Treasury over £100m, money that could’ve been used to support public services.

“Spirits like Scotch Whisky are taxed up to four times more than beer and cider. That is unfair, and something the next government must put right.

“Ruling out further tax hikes and reducing the tax burden over the next Parliament would be backed by voters, and a clear sign of support for Scotland’s flagship industry.”