Marketers were not expecting many favours in Chancellor Gordon Brown’s pre-election Budget, believing he will continue to keep a tight rein on the UK’s finances.
The tobacco industry voiced its concern that duty on cigarettes would be hiked. John Carlisle, executive director of public affairs at the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, says: “We shall be faced with another five per cent above inflation increase, taking the price of cigarettes to about £4.50. It will encourage smugglers to make even more money.”
Hugh Morrison, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association says: “We have invited the Chancellor to cut duty on spirits by four per cent and to continue reducing discrimination against UK products and against spirits in favour of wine.”
The thorny issue of petrol prices is thought likely to emerge again. Last month the treasury temporarily cut the price of unleaded petrol by 2p per litre until June. The Chancellor is not expected to adjust this and Ray Holloway director of the Petrol Retailers Association fears any generosity by the Chancellor on petrol prices will be at the retailer’s expense.
Richard Freeman, public relations manager of policy at the Automobile Association, was more hopeful: “The politicians have finally realised that increases in any of these always causes resentment among voters.”
The gaming industry was “cautiously optimistic” it would get a good deal. Coral Eurobet UK marketing director Chris Welch says he is hopeful the Chancellor will introduce a 15 per cent gross profit tax that will entice off-shore bookmakers back to the UK.