However he announced that wine duty will be raised in line with inflation and that a sugar levy on soft drinks is to be introduced in two years’ time, allowing soft drinks companies there time to adjust the sugar content of their products.
Following the announcement, there have been calls here in Ireland for the government to follow suit.
The two-tier sugar levy is expected to raise £520 million and will be split into one band for drinks with a total sugar content over 5g per 100 ml and a higher band for drinks with content over 8g per 100ml.
In its response to the wine excise announcement in the Budget, Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association there, stated, “We’re pleased with the Chancellor’s decision to freeze spirits duty. The 26 million spirits consumers will raise a glass to that tonight!
“However, we’re disappointed that 30 million wine consumers have been singled out for a duty rise,” he added, “The freeze in wine duty in 2015 has resulted in £118 million extra in revenue to the Treasury in the last 10 months, up 4%, which makes it very unfair that wine has been penalised.”
Commenting on the freeze in beer duty British Beer & Pubs Association Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds said, “This freeze means that beer duty is now 17% lower than it would have been had the Chancellor stuck with the escalator policy.
“To achieve three cuts and a freeze from the Chancellor over four Budgets shows a real commitment and concern for both brewing – an important manufacturing industry – and our nation’s pubs. Beer is already 20p cheaper in pubs than it would have been under the escalator and the industry has the confidence to invest.
“However” she stressed, “we’re still paying the second-highest beer tax in the whole of Europe.”
In the UK, beer accounts for seven in every 10 drinks sold in the pub and under the beer duty escalator (2008-2013) beer tax rose by 42%. During this period, 7,000 pubs closed and 58,000 jobs were lost according to the BBPA.