Alcohol duty freeze extended by six months

The government has announced an extension to the current freeze on alcohol duty to 1 August 2023

In a much-needed boost for the hospitality sector, on 19 December it was announced that alcohol duty hikes will be frozen for six months from 1 February until 1 August 2023.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, James Cartlidge, laid out a plan to provide support to the on trade sector as they face a challenging period ahead. He announced that any decision regarding duty rates will be held until the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivers his Spring Budget on 15 March 20023, but that if any changes to duty are announced then, they will not take effect until 1 August 2023.

James Bielby, Chief Executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, commented: “We welcome this six-month extension to the current duty freeze and urge the government to continue it beyond August. Freezes in alcohol duty are essential to combat rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.

“Increased duty rates also have implications for the illicit market and its knock-on effects for revenue lost by the Exchequer, undermining public health and legitimate business objectives. The government should focus resources on enforcement activity to remove criminals from trading in illicit and non-duty paid goods.”

The Managing Director of Small Beer, Rob Eastwood, agreed with this sentiment: “Any freeze is welcome given the sheer cliff edge particularly within the on trade, as this sector will need all the support it can get as it heads into 2023.”

alcohol duty budget cost of living crisis Government hospitality James Bielby James Cartlidge Jeremy Hunt on-trade