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BDA welcomes
Founder receives Special Award
26 September 2019

Interrupting his spot on craft distillery regulatory matters at his 7th consecutive Craft Distilling Expo, Alan Powell was surprised by Bill Owen of the American Distillers Institute and David T Smith, CDE organizer and gin expert and writer, when he was presented with a beautiful award crafted by David's son Trev, for his Outstanding Contribution to Craft Spirits.

British Distillers Alliance – campaign starts for reduction of spirits duty for craft distillers

14 November 2018

The British Distillers Alliance (BDA) represents the interests of new and smaller businesses involved with the production of spirits in the UK.

The sector has expanded rapidly over the last few years and is important for employment, tax revenues and, increasingly, exports. The paradox is that the high rate of spirits duty in the UK, and the time it must be paid, acts as a barrier to domestic growth and, moreover, there is no reduction of the duty rate for smaller spirits producers (as there is for small brewers).

Alan Powell, founder of the BDA says: “There is now a very good case for the UK to introduce a reduced rate of duty for spirits produced by smaller distillers/producers” and explains:

There is a confluence of events that give rise to a strategy being employed at this point:

  • The incredibly rapid expansion of small and successful UK producers of spirits.

  • Extension of exemptions and reduced rates in EU law for small producers of other alcohol products.

  • The UK may set its own duty rates post Brexit, so HMRC/HMT can be lobbied for reduced rates for small spirits producers.

  • If the UK remains in transition and subject to Single Market rules during the EU exit process, or, if indeed, the UK does not exit the Single Market/EU, there is scope for seeking a derogation for reduced rates of spirits duty for small producers.

  • Unbalanced UK alcohol duty hierarchy – there are hidden quirks and tax avoidance for other products that discriminate against spirits.

Powell explains “Our campaign has commenced with BDA members contacting MPs and other influencers to ask for support of our case for a reduction in spirits duty for small producers.  We will then be seeking meetings with all relevant ministers to make the case, especially in comparison with the lop-sided and unfair alcohol duty structure.  We are also seeking advice from senior expert EU lawyers.  All we are asking is that the playing field is made more level.”

Cheers! British Distillers Alliance 2nd Birthday hits 130 members mark

The British Distillers Alliance – founded in July 2016 – has seen a rapid growth in membership from a core of many of the “craft” spirits pioneers to a broad and growing body of spirits producers and associate members totalling 130 members and continues to expand.

BDA founder and co-ordinator Alan Powell said “The 'craft' spirits sector has exploded and it has been hard to keep up with everything we set out to achieve.  We have focused on the “hard” regulatory matters where we have seen a tough and burdensome excise regime develop, especially with AWRS and application of HMRC policies and restrictions that breach EU law, holding back many businesses and in some cases, access to vital export markets.  We are also concerned with the high burden of taxation on spirits which is not subject to small production rates, like those applied to small brewers or, in the case of small cider-producers, total duty exemption.  We will be pursuing these matters with the Treasury and ministers but we are aware of the parameters we have to work within”.   

Powell adds “In terms of EU law on spirits production and labelling rules, we have found DEFRA to be very helpful and they were recently welcoming to a delegation of BDA members.  Our members made the point that they usually represent the cutting edge of innovation and new product development for spirits and need to be in close consultation”.  

This leads to the vexed issue of Brexit.  Powell says “domestically, little should change for excise matters although we need to ensure the EU principle of excise duty as being a tax on consumption is retained – HMRC does not properly respect this principle nor EU law as it stands, so there is a great risk for the future.  The main problem will be in intra-EU movements which currently may not be exactly frictionless,  but are much smoother than movements subject to customs procedures.”

EU Review
Alan Powell Presentation 3 - .jpeg
Alan Powell Presentation.jpeg

Photos courtesy of Barry Davies, Somerset Craft Distillery Ltd

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