SPARKLING wine producers are celebrating the cut on duty announced in the Budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled an extreme overhaul of the "outdated" alcohol duty system, ensuring that the stronger the drink, the higher the rate

He said he was ending the “irrational” 28 per cent duty premium on sparkling wines and duty on fruit ciders will be cut.

Sussex has had a boom in wine making over the last few years, especially in and around the South Downs, which is home to a number of first-rate brands.

Nick Heasman, a countryside policy manager for the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “The South Downs is rapidly gaining a reputation as Britain’s premier wine making region and this cut in duty is fantastic news for the region and producers of our wonderful sparkling wine.

“We’re looking towards a low-carbon future and this is a good opportunity for people to enjoy local wine produced right on their doorstep.”

Mr Heasman said there has been a 90 per cent increase in vineyard coverage in the South Downs National Park since 2016, with about five new vineyards planted every year.

There are now 51 vineyards and 11 wineries in the park, employing 358 people, attracting some 33,000 visitors a year and contributing directly around £24.5 million to the local economy and £54 million to the wider economy.

Mr Sunak said during his Autumn Budget speech on Wednesday: “Over the last decade, consumption of sparkling wines like prosecco has doubled. English sparkling wine alone has increased almost tenfold. It is clear they are no longer the preserve of wealthy elites, and they are no stronger than still wines.

“So I am going to end the irrational duty premium of 28 per cent that they currently pay. Sparkling wines, wherever they are produced, will now pay the same duty as still wines of equivalent strength.

"Because growing conditions in the UK typically favour lower-strength and sparkling wines, this means English and Welsh wines, compared with stronger imported wines, will now pay less.”

He also announced “draught relief", a new, lower rate of duty on draught beer and cider, cutting the tax by five per cent on drinks served from draught containers over 40 litres and bringing the price of a pint down by 3p.

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