Brent Eleigh: Lavenham Brook vineyard owner calls for George Osborne to freeze alcohol duty

Nick Thomson in the vineyard at Brook Farm, Brent Eleigh, near Lavenham. Nick Thomson in the vineyard at Brook Farm, Brent Eleigh, near Lavenham.

Saturday, February 15, 2014
12:59 PM

A partner in a Suffolk vineyard is urging consumers to back a campaign urging Chancellor George Osborne to freeze duty on wines and spirits in next month’s Budget.

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The online campaign, supported by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the Scotch Whsky Association and the Taxpayers’ Alliance, is calling on the Chancellor to abandon the Alchohol Duty Escalator, which pushes up the rate of duty annually above the rate of inflation.

Mr Osborne won plaudits from the brewing industry after he scrapped the escalator in respect of beer in last year’s Budget, and actually cut the rate of beer duty by 1p.

Nick Thomson, a partner at Lavenham Brook Wines & Produce, based at Brook Farm, Brent Eleigh, near Lavenham, is now encouraging consumers to write to their MPs via the campaign website − www.calltimeonduty.co.uk − asking them to press for all alcohol duties to be frozen in this year’s Budget, scheduled for March 19.

Mr Thomson said he believed many people were unaware that about £14 of the price of an average bottle of whisky in a supermarket or around £3 on a typical bottle of wine went to the the Treasury in tax, adding that, in France, tax accounted for just 20% of the price of a bottle of wine, compared with 57% in the UK.

Brook Farm, which covers 160 acres bordering the Lavenham Brook, grows Bacchus and Pinot Noir grapes on its south-facing slopes and has won a number of awards, including gold medals in the UK Vineyard Association’s Wine of the Year Awards for its 2009. 2010 and 2012 vintages.

The farm also includes an orchard growing eight heritage varieties of English apples, which are pressed for their juice, and is home to two of the three breeds of farm animals which make up the Suffolk Trinity − a flock of Suffolk sheep and a herd of Red Poll cattle, which recently won the Red Poll Cattle Society’s Best Herd in the UK award for 2013.

“While politicians are starting to talk about the economy returning to growth, most of us are tightening our belts and trying to manage the relentlessly rising cost of living,” said Mr Thomson.

“As a local employer in the wine and spirits trade, I want people to be able to enjoy a tipple − responsibly − without feeling they can’t afford it.”

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