The drinks industry has come together to demand a change to an unfair duty regime that it says has gone on for ‘far too long’.
‘We’ve lived with these draconian proposals for five days and we’re sick of them,’ said Ellen Back of the Federation of UK Drinks and Undervalued Professions (FUKDUP) at a protest in central London.
The body said it was campaigning for a better system.
‘Such as the one we had a week ago, which we didn’t like either but turns out maybe wasn’t so bad after all.’
The duty changes outlined by the UK Chancellor in his budget are not due to come into force for over 12 months.
But Ms Back told Fake Booze that the suggested duty alterations were already having a real impact on the profitability of her members’ businesses.
‘Mainly because they’re spending so much time on Twitter complaining about them that they can’t do their day job.’
The government, however, said the drinks industry was being disingenuous.
‘They have been bellyaching about iniquitous duty levels for years,’ said a Treasury spokesman, ‘so we’ve listened to their concerns and reformed them.
‘By replacing an unfair, antiquated system full of anomalies with an unfair modern system that is also full of anomalies.’
The government said that the industry needed to focus on the positives.
‘We’ve rewarded craft beer producers,’ said the spokesman. ‘At least, apart from the small ones, who don’t count.
‘And our local sparkling wine producers in the south are definitely celebrating.
‘Particularly if by ‘south’ you mean ‘south of the Alps’.’
The government also defended its controversial reform of wine duty, which will see products taxed according to their abv.
‘The old system was quirky and illogical,’ said the spokesman. ‘But worst of all, it was obvious that it didn’t work.’
The new one, he said, was far better.
‘Not just because it penalises well-made wine, but also because it is so complicated that nobody will realise they’re actually paying far more than before.’
Being the European country with the highest drinks tax was, he said, a reason for national pride, and proof that the government was ‘building back better by destroying everything’.
Ellen Back from FUKDUP said that she had fielded hundreds of calls from her members who were worried about the impact that the duty changes would have on their business.
But the government said the new system was actually very straightforward.
‘There’s only one number they need to remember,’ said the spokesman, ‘and that’s zero.
‘Which is both their chances of understanding how this all works and their likelihood of survival once prices go up and everyone buys low abv products instead.’
Click here to read why Champagne houses are furious at a ‘totally irresponsible’ rate cut.