Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called on the government to reverse its “questionable” decision to exclude distillers from the successor energy bills discount scheme coming in next month, ahead of this week’s Budget. Writing in PoliticsHome today, Mr Carmichael highlighted the “linchpin” role many distillers play in providing quality jobs and tourism interest in communities in the Highlands and Islands, including in the Northern Isles. He further noted that beer brewers and winemakers are to be included in the provisional criteria, despite being far less energy-intensive industries than distilling.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Distilling takes around 17 kilowatts per hour (kWh) to make a litre of alcohol – where beer brewing requires just 0.5kWh. It is hard to understand, therefore, why the Treasury has determined that brewers, cider and winemakers qualify for full support with their energy bills, while distillers do not. In truth the whole draft list that the government has currently identified as entitled to additional support under the scheme coming next month seems to be the product of questionable priorities.
“Whisky is a flagship product of our country. In the Spring Budget, the Chancellor needs to change course – and give the industry proper support.”
“In the Highlands and Islands in particular, distillers have built up a reputation for their unique products as tourist destinations in their own right – and as a linchpin employer for high quality jobs in places where these can be hard to come by. That success could easily be jeopardised if they are excluded from support.
“The final details of the successor energy bills discount scheme are still being finalised. It is not too late to correct this imbalance and support our distillers before they take further damage.”