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Raising a glass to booze duty freeze (if only the pubs were open)

Booze duties have been frozen for the second year running
Gary McDonald Business Editor

IF the pubs were opened, punters would be raising a glass to the fact they won't be paying extra for their pint or their favourite wine and spirits tipples after Rishi Sunak announced a freeze on alcohol duty for the second year running.

And in what the Chancellor said is another move to keep down the cost of living, he isn't increasing the cost of filling our cars at the pumps, and the planned increase in fuel duty is also cancelled (currently 57.95p of every litre of petrol or diesel goes straight to the Treasury).

Hospitality chiefs say it a welcome measure in an otherwise torrid last year, and gives the industry confidence to meet the ongoing challenges in these critical last months before reopening.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said: “We are encouraged to hear that for only the second time in 20 years all alcohol duty will be frozen.

“Overall, the measures in the Budget around duty and VAT and the furlough scheme are supportive for our pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and accommodation providers.

“But we hope the measures will be kept under review as we reopen and rebuild our industry and support the economy as Northern Ireland’s fourth largest private sector employer.”

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He added: “Maintaining the VAT rate on hospitality at 5 per cent to September and 12.5 per cent until April next year is an important move, but is only beneficial when the sector is actually opened and trading.

“We will work hard to ensure the return to the 20 per cent rate outlined for 2022 is scrapped, because that is uncompetitive for us in Northern Ireland, sharing a land border with the Republic of Ireland.”

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