Local wine business celebrates Budget alcohol duty cut

Arundel and South Downs Conservative Parliamentary Candidate Nick Herbert visited Hennings Wine Merchants in Pulborough on Friday (27 March) to celebrate the Chancellor’s recent Budget reductions on alcohol duty.

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In his March Budget the Chancellor cut beer duty for the third year in a row, taking another penny off a pint, reducing the duty on spirits and most ciders by 2 per cent, and freezing the duty on wine.

Mr Herbert had called for the duty reductions, arguing that they are important to support local pubs and restaurants.  He also pointed out the growing significance of wine production in West Sussex and personally presented the Chancellor with a bottle of wine from the Stopham Estate, near Pulborough to make his case.

Nearly 80 per cent of the price of a bottle of spirits and 60 per cent of a bottle of wine is tax.  Excise duty on wine in the UK is the highest of any EU country except Ireland.  It is almost ten times as high as the duty on a bottle of wine in France.

Mr Herbert said that the alcohol duty escalator introduced by the Labour government in 2008 was “self-defeating”.  Beer duty increased by 42 per cent, but revenues only increased by 12 per cent.  Economists have calculated that most of the direct cost of cutting beer duty is recouped by increases in revenue from employment and sales taxes.

Matthew Hennings, Managing Director of Hennings Wine Merchants, a long established family business with shops in West Sussex, wrote to Mr Herbert before the Budget asking for his support for the campaign to reduce alcohol duty.

Mr Hennings pointed out that sales of wine and spirits account for 42 per cent of the value of products sold in pubs, bars and restaurants and are worth £10 billion to these establishments. 

Hennings Wine employs some 30 people and supplies pubs, clubs and restaurants across the South of England.  Mr Hennings met Nick Herbert at their Pulborough shop to discuss the successful outcome of the campaign.

He said: “I am pleased that the Government were able to freeze the duty on wine and happy that the campaign that Hennings Wine Merchants supported was so successful.

“The alcohol duty escalator over the past six or seven years has doubled the amount of duty on a bottle of wine.  In fact, almost 60 per cent of a £5 Bottle of wine is now tax.

“Not only is the duty freeze good news for our retail customers and local wine producers, but almost two thirds of our business is supplying hundreds of restaurants, pubs, hotels and clubs across the South who deserve some respite from continuing increases to their business costs.

“After all, we all employ a lot of people in our sector and any further pressure on this tax would definitely jeopardise jobs and the local economy.

“I was very pleased that Nick understood our plight and supported us with our campaign.  Hennings Wine Merchants will continue to campaign for a duty reduction in the future.  There is no doubt we pay too much when you consider we pay more duty on a bottle of wine than the whole of Europe added together!”

Nick Herbert said: "It was great news for local businesses that the Chancellor listened to our representations and was able to cut alcohol duty again, as well as freezing fuel duty.  This will put more money into everyone’s pockets and benefit the local economy.

“Despite the substantial initial revenue cost of these measures the Government was able to take this action through responsible management of the public finances and a long term economic plan that has already seen the deficit halved."





  1. Photograph – left to right – Nick Herbert with Matthew Hennings, Managing Director of Hennings Wine Merchants, with locally produced Nyetimber and Stopham Estate wines.
  2. To read Nick's West Sussex County Times column from 12 March 'Alcohol duty' see http://www.nickherbert.com/media_centre.php/747/alcohol-duty.