One month to go until Alcohol Duty system changes

Saturday July 1st 2023

Craft Beer

Small producers, including pubs and restaurants, will benefit from reduced rates on qualifying products, such as draught beer and cider. Photo by Jon Parry

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Today marks one month until the biggest Alcohol Duty reforms in 140 years come into effect.

On 1st August 2023, the Alcohol Duty system will become much simpler, taxing all alcoholic drinks based on their alcohol by volume (ABV).

This replaces the current Alcohol Duty system, which consists of four separate taxes covering beer, cider, spirits, wine and made-wine.

The aim is to make the system fairer and responsive to new products entering the market as consumer tastes evolve.

Small producers, including pubs and restaurants, will benefit from reduced rates on qualifying products, such as draught beer and cider.

The new system reflects the UK Government’s stated commitment to tax simplification.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Gareth Davies said:

“Because we left the EU we can make sure our alcohol duty system works for us. From next month the whole system will be simpler – the duty will reflect the strength of the drink.

“We will also protect pubs and brewers with our Brexit Pubs Guarantee keeping Draught Duty down, and a new Small Producer Relief.”

Jonathan Athow, Director General of Customer Strategy & Tax Design, HMRC, said:

“After listening to feedback from industry, economists, consumer organisations, public health groups and many business owners, the new Alcohol Duty system will be based on the founding principle of taxing alcoholic products by strength, ensuring consistency across the board for the first time.

“The new system will support the government’s public health objectives, and provide extra support to small producers, pubs and the hospitality sector.”

The new system will create six standardised alcohol duty bands across all types of alcoholic products and apply to all individuals and businesses involved in the manufacture, distribution, holding and sale of alcoholic products across the UK.

These reforms will replace and extend the existing Small Brewers Relief with Small Producer Relief. This means that all small businesses that produce any alcoholic products with an ABV of less than 8.5% will be eligible for reduced rates on qualifying products, if they produce less than 4,500 hectolitres per year.

To support the hospitality industry, and recognising the vital role played by pubs in our communities, there will also be a reduced rate for draught products – known as Draught Relief. This will reduce Alcohol Duty on qualifying beer and cider by 9.2%, and by 23% on qualifying wine-based, spirits-based and other fermented products, sold in on-trade premises such as pubs and restaurants.

The reforms will mean that every pint in every pub across the UK will pay less duty than their supermarket equivalent, in line with the UK Government’s Brexit Pubs Guarantee.

To support wine producers and importers in moving to the new method of calculating duty on their products, temporary arrangements will be in place for 18 months from 1st August 2023 until 1st February 2025.

To support innovation and responsible drinking, low strength drinks below 3.5% ABV will be charged at a new lower rate of duty. In making these changes, the UK Government aims to encourage product innovation and ensure the Alcohol Duty system works for business and consumers.

More information on the new Alcohol Duty rates and reliefs can be found on GOV.UK.

Those involved in the production of smaller quantities of alcoholic products, can check the reduced rates of duty that apply to them by using the Small Producer Relief calculator. HMRC is also running a series of live webinars throughout July 2023 and in the months ahead to further support the alcohol industry through these changes.

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