Jeremy Hunt's decision not to hike up the tax take on alcohol until August next year has been welcomed by the industry north of the border. 

In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor confirmed he would be freezing duty across all four alcohol categories.

Diageo said the measure would give pub-goers across the country “more reason to celebrate this festive season.”

But Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) called the decision” disappointing” saying there was a clear link between the harms of alcohol and the price.

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In his speech to the Commons, Mr Hunt paid tribute to Conservative colleagues Douglas Ross and David Mundell for their "fierce" lobbying on behalf of the Whisky industry.

He told MPs: “So as well as confirming our Brexit pubs guarantee, which means the duty on a pint is always lower than in the shops, I have decided to freeze all alcohol duty until 1 August next year. That means no increase duty on beer, cider, wine or spirits.”

According to the Treasury documents, this will cost £90m in 2023/24 and £220m in 2024/25.

However, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) the 10.1% hike in August this year, means that alcohol duty receipts are expected to raise a total of £13 billion this year, up by £0.6 billion from last year.

They forecast this to jump to £17.1 billion in 2028-29.

The OBR predicts that the combined effect of the freeze to alcohol duty and a 10% increase in hand-rolling tobacco duty will initially reduce inflation slightly in 2024-25, before then increasing it slightly in 2025-26.

The Scotch Whisky Association welcomed the freeze, but said the duty rate on spirits of £31.64 per litre of pure alcohol, meant that of the £15.63 average price of a bottle of Scotch Whisky, £11.40 is collected in taxation through duty and VAT, a tax burden of 73%.

Chief Executive of the trade body, Mark Kent said: “With cost pressures hurting distillers large and small, the Treasury has provided some much-needed certainty and stability for the year ahead that will allow us get back to doing what we do best – making a world-class spirit, with a global reputation, which creates jobs and boosts growth here at home.”

He said there still needed to be discussions with the Chancellor as Scotch was “still put at a disadvantage” under the current system.

Mr Kent said this was “based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how people consume alcohol and modern drinking trends.”

“We want to continue the discussion with the government about how the tax system can more closely reflect the number of units in a typical drink, rather than the strength of the finished product. Despite today’s duty freeze, cider is still taxed four times less than a spirit like Scotch Whisky, this is not fair and cannot be justified.”

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Nuno Teles, Managing Director, Diageo GB said: "Today we raise a glass to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, who have listened to the industry’s plea for support and decided to back our homegrown sector, that employs so many people across the UK.

"Drinkers and pub-goers across the country now have even more reason to celebrate this festive season.”

Responding for SHAAP, Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, said the freeze was effectively a tax cut for the industry.

He said: “The number of people who are suffering from harms caused by alcohol is increasing at an alarming rate and a key way to reduce this suffering is to use taxation to lower consumption of alcohol, as has previously been acknowledged by the Treasury.

"Therefore, the decision to freeze alcohol duty - which is a real terms cut - until August 2024 is disappointing.

“Alcohol harms are directly related to the affordability of alcohol: the cheaper alcohol is, the more we consume, and the higher the levels of harm. This in turn impacts our economy via lower productivity as well as putting pressure on health services.“