The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) is reaching out to pubs and bars to help achieve a 2% cut in duty in the next budget.

Chief executive Miles Beale told delegates at the body’s annual conference that such a move would enable the UK industry to compete on a par with other European countries.

“We are not asking for the world,” he said.

“This will free the shackles of the industry, and support the on-trade, to help us reach our potential.”

He singled out wine as being treated “particularly harshly,” pointing out that UK consumers paid 35% of all wine duty in the EU, contributing £3.7 billion to the exchequer in 2013-14.

The strategy is for the entire industry to present a united front to the Government ahead of next year’s budget and the body is encouraging everyone with a stake in the alcohol industry to contact their local MP.

“From previous campaigns we know that it takes only six emails or letters for an MP to sit up and take notice,” Beale said. “And we also know MPs respond well to concerns from local businesses and entrepreneurs – particularly when their jobs are at stake, which they will be ahead of a general election next year.”

The hospitality sector, English wine producers and independent wine and spirit merchants had a crucial part to play in achieving this, he said.

Beale also took the opportunity to castigate the industry’s critics for failing to acknowledge the progress it had made in cutting alcohol consumption and harm and pointed to figures showing per capital consumption had fallen to below levels last seen in 1979; that the UK drank less than the European average and that more young people are drinking less, or abstaining from, alcohol.

“This industry is insufficiently supported by the Government and punitively taxed,” he added.