Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1 Horse Guards Road
31st October 2022
Congratulations on your appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer. You need no reminding that you take up your new responsibilities amid the most challenging times for the Scottish economy – including our vital food and drink sector.
That is why I am writing to urge you to reconsider your plans to scrap the previously proposed freeze on alcohol duty in your financial statement on October 31st.
The food and drink sector is worth £3.6bn to the economy and forms a vital part of Scotland’s manufacturing sector, employing 47,000 people – more than a quarter of the entire Scottish manufacturing workforce.
I have serious concerns that your plans to scrap the freeze will put a potentially unsustainable strain on businesses already experiencing spiralling costs as a result of your government’s inaction on energy bills, coupled with rising inflation and interest rates. Reversing the freeze will pile more costs on to these firms.
Not only does the freeze impact brewers and distillers, but also the pubs and restaurants they supply. As the tax duty increases, the price hospitality businesses pay for these products increases too – costs that are then passed on to their customers.
These plans threaten the very heart of Scotland’s food and drink and hospitality sectors, which form such an integral part of Scotland’s economy.
Already industry leaders have expressed their concerns, with the Scotch Whisky Association issuing a statement that the commitment needs to be ‘urgently reinstated’.
Earlier this year, Scotland’s oil and gas industry bankrolled the UK government’s windfall tax, with 90% of companies subject to it based in Scotland. Scotland’s successful and world-renowned industries should not have to pick up the bill for your government’s economic incompetence and profligacy with public finances.
I would urge you to listen to the calls from industry leaders and reinstate the freeze on alcohol duty.
Emma Roddick MSP