In today’s budget speech The Chancellor announced, “No change to planned changes in alcohol duties.” You may well have understood this to mean no change in beer duty. In fact, at first I did because the escalator on beer duty has been scrapped, but apparently at some point the government announced that all alcohol duty was to rise in line with inflation. Today HMRC have published this which clarifies the deliberately obtuse language in the announcement.
The sad fact is that the press have been, as they always are, thrown off the scent by this ploy but the upshot is that we need to pass on a rise of about £2 per cask to our customers who will in turn have to increase their prices to their customers. That’s you.
The duty rise affects all deliveries from Monday 13th March 2017 but we will hold the increase in our prices back until 1st April for our free trade customers.
Two talking points come out of this (Apart from the obvious):
- The underhand way in which duty increases are announced on budget day. Even trade bodies who campaign on this and are used to this sneaky behaviour take a little while to understand what was really said:
- Why must duty changes always be implemented mid-month when the accounting period is monthly? The impact assessment here claims, “Those businesses affected by the duty rate change will incur a negligible one-off cost to update their systems. There are not expected to be any additional on-going costs.” Well, I beg to differ. Not only do we have to update our systems next Monday, we also have to do an extra monthly beer duty return as March will effectively be two months this year. This means an extra stock take and much extra paperwork. Would it kill them to do the budget on the last Wednesday of the month?
So there it is. My decoding of one sentence in the budget speech. “No extra costs?” Sheesh!