The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) and Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) have praised the “encouraging progress” being made by HMRC on alcohol fraud – but urged the Government to take more action.
Speaking after a “positive” meeting with Conservative MP Priti Patel, FWD chief executive James Bielby said that the battle against duty fraud will continue on three fronts – wholesaler registration, due diligence requirements from excise traders and more work from HMRC.
Patel, who is the former chair of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, was told that non-UK duty paid tobacco costs the Government more than £2.6bn in lost revenue.
Both organisations already work closely with the HMRC, with the ACS working on a submission to the government’s autumn financial statement, with the FWD working with HMRC on a forthcoming wholesale registration scheme.
FWD chief executive James Bielby said that wholesaler registration, which starts in 12 months, was key for retailers: “It will be an offence for retailers to not check that their alcohol supplier is licensed, and those who don’t buy alcohol from a registered source will be prosecuted,” he said.
“This is an HMRC scheme, and the full arm of the law will be brought down on retailers who don’t comply”.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We reiterated our support for the new wholesale registration scheme that has a vital role to play in closing down the pervasive trade in non-UK duty paid beers, wines and spirits.”
The meeting came as another raft of arrests, seizures and raids were carried out by HMRC officers and other authorities, with 14 people arrested in raids across London and the south east.