prosecco champagne bubbly

Brits are paying much more tax on alcohol than the rest of Europe, with over half of the cost of an average family’s Christmas booze shop going direct to the Treasury, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

Tax accounts for 51% of an average UK family’s festive alcohol shop, the industry body said, while in France consumers would pay only 32% tax on the same basket of goods.

In the UK, a festive shop of five bottles of wine, two bottles of Champagne, two bottles of sparkling wine, three bottles of spirits, two bottles of port, 24 cans of beer and 12 ciders would cost an average of £171.66, of which £88.19 would be tax.

In France, the same basket of booze would cost £136.89, of which £42.52 would be tax.

“Comparing the wine and spirit tax regime in the UK to that in France puts the UK’s high rate of excise duty firmly in the spotlight. Over 50% of the bill at the checkout will go straight to the Treasury,” said Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA.

With alcohol prices set to rise in the new year as a result of the weakening sterling, the WSTA has called on the government to freeze wine and spirits duty in the next Budget.

“In the new year, we should be under no illusion that prices will rise. In addition, with inflation levels rising to 1.2% in November, spirits prices will increase and wine will be hit again,” said Beale.

“And that is also why it’s vital there is no increase to duty on wine and spirits at the next Budget in March. The chancellor can provide welcome relief for businesses that have some extremely testing times ahead.”