New alcohol duty system

The government has published its response to the consultation on the new alcohol duty system, announced at Autumn Budget 2021. It has also published accompanying draft primary legislation, launched a consultation seeking views on this draft and issued a small producers survey.

Representing the biggest changes to the alcohol duty system in over 140 years, on 1 August 2023 the government will introduce new alcohol duty rates based on products’ alcoholic content (ABV), whilst freezing alcohol duty rates from 1 February 2023. The new alcohol duty system also includes:

  • an easement for the wine industry for the first 18 months of the new system
  • amended qualifying criteria for draught products relief (smaller container sizes, to support small businesses in the hospitality industry)
  • a small producer’s relief that extends the benefits of Small Brewers Relief to producers in other categories.

Summary of feedback so far

We continue to work closely with government on these issues and the main summary of feedback to the government from small brewers and distillers who make up our membership was as follows:

1. A large number of respondents welcomed the degree of simplification and clarity that these changes will bring and reflects one of the Forum’s main points that we need to make it easier for small businesses to operate.

2. There is a feeling that the changes were less welcomed by distillers and wine producers reflecting the difference in what they produce, import and sell and the impact on products of higher strength. This would also impact on brewers of higher strength craft beers. This may need more work and there is an opportunity to try and solve this through the technical consultation and details of how you can do that are included below.

3. Cider makers highlighted the impact of higher duty rates on the types of cider they produce as its difficult to reduce the ABV without impacting on quality. This was particularly reflected by the smaller producers. In summary there is still some disagreement between different small producers be they brewers, distillers, cider makers and wine producers and there is still an opportunity to make your points and raise issues around the governments’ plans through the technical consultation.

The Forum will be submitting some general feedback on behalf of our members but if you wish to add your own comments, please follow the link below.

How to take part to the technical consultation on the draft legislation

If you have any feedback on the draft legislation, you can take part in the technical consultation by completing the small producers survey and emailing the HMRC Alcohol Policy Team at mailbox: