Scrapping duty escalator would benefit you each time you buy wine

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has the chance to destroy the alcohol duty escalator once and for all, making for fairer prices for shoppers each time they buy wine, according to an industry organisation.

The Wine & Spirits Trade Association points out that, since the alcohol duty escalator was introduced under Labour prime minister Gordon Brown in 2008, taxation on spirits has risen by 44% and taxation on wine has risen by 50%.

In each case, the increase under the current coalition government since 2010 has been 25%, roughly half of the overall effect.

While the escalator was always intended to govern the level of duty for the long term - so it is no surprise that prices have continued to rise since the last general election - current chancellor George Osborne has already scrapped matching increases in beer duty.

Miles Beale, chief executive of WSTA, says: "While the chancellor has removed beer from the duty escalator, he has now increased duty on wines and spirits by 25% since 2010."

Between now and the next Budget, WSTA is sending a message to Mr Osborne, saying: "Be fair, George!"

And that, in turn, should help to eventually reach fairer retail conditions for independent wine merchants, and for customers when they buy wine and spirits.