politics

Rishi Sunak cuts tax on Champagne – but leaves it off Budget changes fact sheet


The Treasury produced a helpful fact sheet to outline changes to alcohol taxes in Rishi Sunak’s budget – but for some reason left champagne off the list

Tory Rishi Sunak slashed tax on bottles of champagne in his Budget – but left it off a fact sheet of booze tax changes.

The Chancellor announced he was ending the “irrational” 28% duty premium on sparkling wines in his speech.

He told MPs: “Sparkling wines – wherever they are produced – will now pay the same duty as still wines of equivalent strength.”

The Treasury had trailed the change as a boost to English sparkling wine producers.

But the change also cuts tax on a bottle of Bollinger by around 64p a bottle.

Following his speech, the Treasury distributed a helpful fact sheet to reporters, with 48 examples of how taxes will go up or down on specific beverages.

Duty on a can of Fosters, for example, will go down by 3p – whereas tax on a bottle of Buckfast will go up by 81p and tax on a bottle of Frosty Jacks will go up 45p.

But despite including three different brands of prosecco, Martini Asti and two different English sparkling wines, two different sherries, two ports and Madeira fortified wine – Champagne was absent from the cheat sheet.








Boris Johnson popping the cork on a bottle of Champagne in 2014
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Image:

Nils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock)









There was no sign of Champagne – which racked up £418m in sales last year – on the ‘cheat sheet’



Some 14.3 million bottles of Champagne worth £418 million were sold in the UK last year.

Responding to the Budget for Labour, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “At least the bankers on short-haul flights sipping champagne will be cheering this Budget today.”

Rishi Sunak told MPs he was “radically” simplifying alcohol duty by introducing a system designed around the principle of “the stronger the drink, the higher the rate”.





The move is bad news for high-strength cider guzzlers, but will prove a saver for those partial to a glass of rose wine or lower strength beers.

Pubs were not left out either, with a 5% draught relief applied to pints of cider and beer poured out of containers over 40 litres. Mr Sunak, who is teetotal, said it would bring about a permanent 3p reduction in the cost of a pint.

The planned increase in duty on spirits, wine, cider and beer will also be cancelled immediately, while the wider duty reforms will come into effect by 2023.


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