Cider drinkers across Gloucester are raising a glass to chancellor George Osborne this week with the news of a tax freeze on the county’s favourite apple based tipple.
It has been announced there will be a freeze on the duty paid on ordinary cider and beer will see tax cut by 1p a pint.
Government bean counters took the decision to help out struggling west country business hit by winter storms and subsequent floods.
Those in the trade said the helping hand is long overdue, as cider missed out on a cut in duty in last year’s Budget.
Nick Bull, a director at Severn Cider in Newnham, said: “Putting up the duty on cider will only lead to cider makers having to put their prices up.
“That would mean less money in the Government’s pocket as fewer people will want to buy the product, they would be shooting themselves in the foot.
“We are producing a whole juice cider, with apple concentrate, unlike bigger companies that will use more water.
“We source apples from other orchards across the south west.
“Although we do not flood here, other orchards have so they will be glad of the help.
“This freeze on duty is only a start.”
The alcohol duty escalator, which has increased duty on cider by two per cent above inflation every year since it was introduced in 2008, has been abolished after it was scrapped for beer last year.
A 3p hike in beer duty was scrapped last year after campaigning by real ale enthusiasts and Gloucester MP Richard Graham.
The cider industry is worth around £3 billion to the economy, with the food and drink industry a vital component of trade in the South West.
“The pub industry alone adds more than £2 billion to the region and employs almost 100,000 people.
Joe Pointon, organiser of the Witcombe Cider Festival, said the duty freeze is good news for punters and producers.
“As the organiser of the festival it means that we will be in stronger position going in to next year’s event.
“I make cider and there are a lot of other smaller producers all over Gloucestershire who will be happy with the freeze on duty.
“Every little helps, and it means we won’t have to put our prices up like we have had to do in the past.
“It is the spin offs from the cider industry that will benefit most long term because of this.
“All of the extra money that we make can be re-invested into orchards and new equipment for the good of the industry.
A mini-Witcombe cider festival is taking place at Blackfriars Priory on Saturday, April 19.
The full Witcombe Cider Festival on August 23-24. For tickets, visit witcombeciderfestival.co.uk.