To help the drinks industry support jobs and investment, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has urged the UK Government to cut excise duty on spirits by 2% in the budget to be presented on 8 March.

According to SWA, the present level of tax on an average priced bottle of Scotch is too high and more government support is needed.

The UK market for Scotch Whisky continued to grow in 2016, reversing the dipping demand seen in recent years.

Figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) indicated the number of 70cl bottles of Scotch Whisky sold in the UK in the first three quarters of 2016 totalled 57.2 million, an increase of 5.6% from 54.2 million in 2015.

According to SWA, this positive trend follows on from an increase in demand in 2015, which was the first period of growth in the UK market since 2010.

"The UK is one of the biggest markets for Scotch in the world, but it is fragile and competitive."

Excise on spirits was also cut by 2% in 2015 and revenue increased by £123m to £3.15bn in 2016. SWA stated that another 2% cut will boost confidence in the industry and revenue to the Treasury.

Scotch Whisky Association’s acting chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird said: “The UK is one of the biggest markets for Scotch in the world, but it is fragile and competitive, particularly so in the context of the historic change Brexit will bring.

“That's why we want the Chancellor to support our strategically-important industry by cutting duty by 2% next month. And the government's own figures show that such a cut would also benefit the public purse.”

Scotch whisky adds £5bn in value each year to the country’s economy, supporting more than 40,000 jobs and exporting £4bn annually to almost 200 markets.

Image: SWA urges UK government to drop excise duty on spirits by 2%. Photo: courtesy of  Scotch Whisky Association.