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Fighting Our Corner

Published:  18 January, 2007

As we finalise the WSTA Budget Submission 2008, a nagging voice at the back of my mind asks, "Really, what is the point?".

Our submission is there to remind the Treasury of something that is consistently and conveniently overlooked by the health lobby: increased taxation will not reduce alcohol related harm.

In this year's submission, we repeat the point that taxes should not be used as a tool of public policy. By and large, Treasury officials and ministers agree with us; but we have to support them, and we have to help them make the case. Other departments, responsible for tackling alcohol harm through law enforcement, education, licensing and health provision, hope that the Chancellor will wield the blunt weapon of taxation and thereby relieve them of their burden.

Our submission also fills in other parts of the argument that the Treasury would not otherwise see. It lets them know about the "perfect storm" of rising costs that the industry is facing: ongoing increases in energy, packaging and transport prices are coinciding with increased costs for raw materials. The UK is becoming an increasingly unappealing market for world producers, and if the constant onslaught of duty increases is not checked, the market will suffer.

The Budget unites us as an association behind a position we strongly believe in: that increased taxes are bad for the economy, bad for the Treasury, and bad for business. We look forward to making that case to the Treasury.

Jeremy Beadles is chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association