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BBPA’s response to low strength consultation

Commenting on the opening of a new consultation today, seeking views on “options to amend the structure of the alcohol duty system so that duty rates better correspond to alcoholic strength”, BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds, said: “We will be responding, as we’ve always made the case for more action to ensure that lower strength drinks such as beer attract lower alcohol duties. 

“Whilst the Government has made good progress in recent years, with the introduction of the lower rates of duty for beers under 2.8 per cent ABV, it is disappointing that this consultation will not look at measures to support lower-strength beer as well as cider, something we had asked for, when the consultation was announced.

“Beer is by far the leading lower-strength drink, and lower duty rates have spurred innovation and offered more choice for consumers in the sector. 

“However, this is very much a work in progress, and we would like the Treasury to be looking closely at how the system can be improved; raising the 2.8 per cent threshold, for example, would bring many more beers into the lower rate and could boost lower-strength choices for consumers. 

“As we move towards Brexit, there is an opportunity to ensure a more competitive tax system for beer than is possible within the current tax framework of the EU Structures Directive, which only allows for lower rates of tax for beers up to 2.8 per cent ABV.  Now is the time to be looking very seriously at these issues.”