Latest Channel 4 News:
Row over Malaysian state's coins
'Four shot at abandoned mine shaft'
Rain fails to stop Moscow wildfires
Cancer blow for identical twins
Need for Afghan progress 'signs'

Tories call for 'Wurzel' cider tax to be scrapped

By Emma Thelwell

Updated on 12 April 2010

The Conservative party launches an attack on Labour's "Wurzel" tax, calling for the controversial levy on cider to be scrapped.

The Tories are fighting a proposed 10 per cent tax on cider (Reuters)

In a trip to Fuller's brewery in London earlier this morning, party leader David Cameron flagged up his opposition to Labour's plan to hike cider duty by 10 per cent.

Super-strength ciders, lagers and alco-pops should be taxed, he conceded, but the Tories "don't want to tax the typical pint in the pub".

Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative culture spokesman, officially launched local campaigns against Labour from the Cornish Cider Farm in Truro, Cornwall, today.

The tax, outlined by Alistair Darling in this year's budget, has been in place for little more than a week.

The 10 per cent tax on normal-strength cider was thrown out in the parliamentary wash-up last week, and from the end of June it will be reduced to 8 per cent - in line with the standard tax rise slapped on beer. 

However, the move was widely seen as a reprieve rather than a U-turn.

"Last week they bowed to our pressure to stop the tax taking effect this month, yet they've pledged to go ahead and impose it in June if they form the next government," Hunt said.

Henry Chevallier, chairman of the National Association of Cider Makers, said recently: "When Gordon Brown, then Alistair Darling, left us alone for a few years, our investment and innovation doubled the value of the cider market and doubled the contribution we made to government. All that might now be at risk."

The Tories plan instead to target super-strength beers, super-strength ciders and alco-pops that they say fuel underage and binge drinkers.

Hunt said that Tory efforts to curb binge drinking would include banning supermarkets and other retailers from selling alcohol below cost price - in a bid to quash the numbers of young people drinking at home before heading out to town centres.

He also put forward plans for a tougher licensing regime, giving local councils and police the power to cut back on the number of late licences dished out to shops, takeaways and other outlets.

The Conservative policy would be funded by the higher taxes on the "problem drinks" mentioned above, raising around £80m, "which will more than offset the £15m per year cost of reversing Labour's tax increase on normal strength cider," said Hunt.

Cameron said: "This really deep discounting is actually encouraging irresponsible behaviour and we need to stop it. This way it will be easier to maintain a "good and thriving pub trade," he added.

The beleaguered pub industry is suffering from 39 closures every week, according to the British Beer and Pub Association. Cameron blamed the supermarkets and convenience stores, who are selling cut-price alcohol across the UK.

Send this article by email

More on this story

Channel 4 is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Watch the Latest Channel 4 News

Watch Channel 4 News when you want

Latest Politics news

More News blogs

View RSS feed

Token candidate?

Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbott (credit:Getty Images)

Diane Abbott: I am the genuine move-on candidate for Labour

'Mr Ordinary'

Andy Burnham, Getty images

Andy Burnham targets Labour's 'ordinary' person.

Cartoon coalition


How Channel 4 News viewers picture the coalition in cartoon form

Blue blood

William IV and David Cameron (Credit: Getty)

A family affair? Who Knows Who: Cameron's royal links

FactCheck on Twitter


New on FactCheck: The cost of delaying a decision on Trident

Yesterday at 15:45

Follow us

The Freedom Files

Freedom Files

Revealed: the stories they didn't want to tell.

Making a FoI request?

Channel 4 News tells you how to unearth information.


See how many times a word is used in key speeches, and in what context.

Channel 4 © 2010. Channel 4 is not responsible for the content of external websites.