Treasury urged to play fair with Moray’s whisky industry

The UK Treasury is being urged to put in place a fairer tax regime that would help boost the vital whisky industry in Moray.

Local MP Angus Robertson has already lobbied Treasury minister Priti Patel ahead of the Westminster budget announcement, highlighting that almost 80% of the price of a bottle of whisky is already going to the treasury as tax.

Mr Robertson, who is vice-chair of the all party Parliamentary Scotch Whisky and Spirits Group, said: “Meeting the Treasury Minister provided an opportunity to press her for fairness and equity for the whisky sector, which is so important to the local economy in my own Moray Constituency and to the wider Scottish economy.

“Whisky companies re-circulate huge amounts of money to suppliers, from barrel makers to electricians, engineering firms and the agricultural sector.

“For a long time but especially in recent budgets the UK Government has operated a Tax and Grab policy taking unfair advantage of a top performing industry rather than backing it to perform at an even higher level.

“If the tax regime were equitable for whisky against other alcohol production then that economic impact could be even stronger supporting even more highly skilled well paid jobs and greater investment in expanding production.”

At the meeting the MP also took the opportunity to highlight regulation of gas infrastructure, and issue that he has been pursuing with his Holyrood colleague Richard Lochhead MSP, who have held a series of meetings with the Moray Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

He said: “The ongoing issue around extending gas supply in Speyside has been frustrating.

“The whisky sector has invested in extending the supply for several distilleries in the area but extending that further to Speyside households and businesses has effectively been blocked by the formula used to decide on gas infrastructure investment.

“Along with Richard Lochhead MSP and other public bodies in Moray I am continuing to push for UK Government action to review what is a discriminatory formula that is preventing people in rural Speyside from getting access to mains gas.

“I have pressed the Minister that her Government needs to take urgent action to get some movement on this important issue.”

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