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“Time not right for beer tax stamps”

UK brewers have expressed their support for all of the recommendations in a report by The All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) into duty fraud, which concluded that the time is not right for the introduction of beer tax stamps.

The beer tax fraud inquiry stated, “It is clear to us that this is a serious problem; beer tax fraud continuing unchecked has a corrosive social impact and repercussions reaching far beyond the brewing industry. It has also become evident that no single measure is likely to have a marked effect on its own.

“However, we consider a series of measures targeted at specific aspects of the problem may work to disrupt the business models of the organised criminal gangs behind the fraud, without imposing disproportionate burdens on the legitimate producers, suppliers, retailers and consumers of beer.”

Further conclusions the inquiry drew was that the problem is no longer confined to the white van trade smuggling relatively small amounts of beer, but has become the lucrative business of organised criminal gangs importing truckloads of beer through Dover and other avenues.

BBPA chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said, “I want to thank Andrew Griffiths, John Healey and the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, who have jointly undertaken a very thorough investigation, and have concluded that the time is not right for the introduction of beer tax stamps or supply chain legislation.

“They are right to be concerned over the very damaging effect these plans would have on the UK brewing and pub industry, and of equal importance, the reduced choice this would mean for beer drinkers.

“We endorse all of the report’s recommendations – and we must work more closely together to pursue more criminal prosecutions against those involved in fraud. To this end, we invite HMRC and all other stakeholders to join us in tackling the problem through a new Task Force, which should be set up as soon as possible so it can start delivering results.”

The British Beer & Pub Association has also called for the establishment of a new joint Government and industry anti-fraud task force, with expert stakeholders. This should be set up as soon as possible, to make existing policies work better and to build on the current anti-fraud strategy.

Earlier this week the BBPA reported that the government’s planned tax stamps on every bottle of beer may be illegal and they will land brewers with a £100 million annual bill which could wipe out smaller brewers and pubs. 

The BBPA said in a statement: “Controversial plans for the introduction of tax stamps on every bottle and can of British beer would land Britain’s brewing industry with a £100 million annual bill, and shut hundreds of beer brands out of the UK beer market”.

Its submission warns: “The proposals fail in terms of proportionality, effectiveness, fairness and almost certainly legality and therefore should not be taken forward.

“Instead, HMRC should step up its enforcement and apprehend the criminal gangs responsible for duty fraud, with intelligence and support from the industry.”

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