AS your readers celebrate the new year, I wonder how many of them realise exactly how much of the money they spend on a bottle of wine or a gin and tonic goes straight to the taxman. Since 2008 tax on wine and spirits has increased year-on-year by 50 per cent and 44 per cent respectively.

That means that on average 57 per cent of the price of a bottle of wine and 79 per cent of the price of a bottle of spirits is now pure tax. If you spend £12.50 on a bottle of gin, £10 of that goes to the taxman.

Let me put this in context: if you took all of the duty paid on alcohol in the European Union, almost 40 per cent of that is paid in the UK.

What’s more, George Osborne, the Chancellor, is planning to increase his alcohol super tax in 2014.

I’d like to ask your readers to support us in urging him to be fair and scrap his alcohol super tax in 2014 for three reasons: There would be more money for the public finances – independent research from Ernst and Young has found that by keeping tax levels as they are in 2014, rather than raising them, public finances would actually benefit by £230 million. This super tax on alcohol is bad for business and bad for jobs.

As the economy starts to turn a corner, businesses like producers, retailers, pubs and restaurants need to be helped to make Britain stronger, not punished with yet more tax.

This industry contributed around £20 billion to the British economy last year and already supports nearly two million jobs.

A lot of people’s livelihoods are at stake.

Lastly, it is not fair to ordinary people to make a bottle of wine or a gin and tonic a luxury they can no longer afford. Consumers deserve a freeze on alcohol duty, not another tax hike.

So we’re asking people to visit our tax campaign website where you can urge your MP to push for this unfair alcohol super tax to be scrapped.

Make your voice heard and ask your MP to tell the Chancellor: be fair, George!

MILES BEALE Chief Executive, Wine and Spirit Trade Association