HMRC has come under fire for putting a £10,000 burden on retailers under the new alcohol registration scheme.

Around 4,800 applications for the newly-introduced Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme were received by HMRC in advance of last month’s deadline, which fell below the originally estimated 20,000 businesses.

But retailers will be impacted from next year and face a fine of up to £10,000, if they fail to check the online database and buy alcohol from unlisted wholesalers.

The NFRN has raised concerns about the onus
being on retailers and called for HMRC to enable retailers to register an interest in wholesalers so they receive automatic notifications if their status changes.

NFRN head of public affairs Adrian Roper said: “We have no problem with the concept and support anything that aims to drive counterfeit and illicit out the supply chain, but have concerns about the way it is being implemented.

“It puts the onus and additional burden on retailers and HMRC is not doing simple things, like offering an alerting service on the website, which will help retailers comply.”

Retailers have also called for wholesalers to display their credentials on their websites and in depots.

Conrad Davies, of Spar Pwllheli in Wales, said:
“It won’t affect me personally, as we only buy from Blakemore. But retailers
are the ones who are going to have to pay again.

“We have to display everything, including our licence details. Wholesalers should be doing that at the very least.”

Faisal Naseem, of Party Time in Arbroath, said: “I’m tech-savvy, but even I wouldn’t know where to look to see if a wholesaler is registered.

“Older retailers and those independents who use smaller wholesalers are often faced with an information void. Wholesalers should display that they are a trusted source around their alcohol section so customers can see it and feel confident.”

An HMRC spokesman said there is no requirement for wholesalers to display signs, but they are required to display their AWRS registration number on invoices. He added HMRC is working on help for retailers who can’t access the online database.