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Scottish devolution of duty may increase costs for drinkers

The Scottish government have sent Westminster a paper outlining six demands for changes to the Scotland Bill. Included in the paper is a demand to gain control of the duty system. The argument from the Scottish Government is that allowing the tax to be devolved would allow the government to “set the most appropriate excise duty regime for Scotland”, which would run “alongside the minimum pricing policy” as an “additional and complementary tool”. Scotland received £777 million
as its per capita share of alcohol duties last year, but maintains that if all the tax was handed back that would rise to £816 million.

However, Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s Gavin Partington said that the new regime would require WSTA members to divide specific parts of their business up to account for them under different tax regimes. This would entail huge additional costs for businesses. It would also encourage cross-border trade, legal or otherwise and it’s hard to see how that would benefit the government or taxpayers in Scotland.