27th April 2016
Reforms to the duty exemption enjoyed by small cider producers in the South West are expected to be announced next year after a campaign led by local MEP Ashley Fox.
Last year the EU Commission ordered the UK government to end its forty-year tax exemption enjoyed by UK cider and perry makers who produce less than 33 pints a day.
MEPs led by Mr Fox have called for cider to treated in a similar way to small breweries that receive a duty exemption.
Mr Fox organised for cider producers to make their case directly with the Commission’s tax specialists, “There is clearly a desire to rewrite the rules in line with what we have been asking for and there is nothing but positive news coming from the tax specialists.”
“The reason the Commission asked for the exemption to be scrapped was because it felt it was contrary to rules of free trade but we have proved that such a small amount of cider isn’t distorting the market at all.”
Fenella Tyler, Chief Executive of the National Association of Cider Makers, said, “These small cider producers are at the heart of rural life and help drive their local economies. They feed into tourism, local shops and pubs and look after the ancient orchards that shape the rural landscape.”
Alex Hill, owner of Bollheye Cider in Devon, also met Mr Fox and said, “Without the exemption I would simply stop making cider. It’s a small but very significant amount of money that I reinvest back into a very small business."
Ashley concluded, “The exemption is worth about £2000 a year on a small turnover of about £20,000 and without this modest exemption many will go out of business. However, the producers bring incredible value to the rural economy and we do need to protect them through the tax laws.”
“The battle isn’t over and we are not complacent but the signs are good.”