Cider makers in county back calls to scrap duty on the drink
CIDER makers are at the core of calls to end the duty escalator on the drink and claimed jobs in the county would be directly affected by the decision.
At a cider reception in the House of Commons, industry leaders urged Government officials to abandon the move.
A spokesperson for Westons Cider, which employs 200 people at Much Marcle, including staff from Gloucestershire, said that scrapping the policy was necessary, despite strong summer sales.
"While both Westons and the wider cider industry have enjoyed a great summer of sales, the cider duty escalator hampers the cider industry's ability to invest for the long term.
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"Long-term investment is crucial in the cider industry, which is a major direct and indirect rural employer. "Orchards, for example, have life cycles of 30 years and often take up to seven years before they are productive, it is these long-term investment windows which will be directly affected by the Government's taxation policy."
The duty escalator still applies to cider, despite being removed for beer in the Budget in March.
Kevin Minchew, of Minchew's Real Cyder & Perry, near Tewkesbury, labelled the decision to remove the tax for beer and not cider "unfair" and said small-scale and medium-sized cider makers needed extra Government support.
"I think it's unfair to be biased to one and not the other," he said. "The cider industry is a very fragile one. There is only a small window for apples, between August and October and storage can last for 18 months. We need every penny we can get."
Last week's bi-annual cider reception was jointly hosted by the Parliamentary Cider Group and National Association of Cider Makers (NACM).
Paul Bartlett, chairman of the NACM, said Government support was vital.
He said: "It is the interest and support of Government officials that gives us the confidence to invest at the levels we do and to ensure that the cider industry remains a very British success story."
There are four duty categories for cider; cider between 1.2 and 7.5 per cent ABV; between 7.5 and 8.5 per cent ABV; sparkling cider between 1.2 and 5.5 per cent ABV and sparkling cider between 5.5 and 8.5 per cent ABV.
The beer duty escalator added inflation plus two per cent to the price.