Brewers propose 10-point plan against fraud

HMRC is still in the middle of its consultation process, which is due to close at the end of June.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributor’s submission will centre on its assertion that demand for British-brewed beer on the continent is only around 180m litres a year, yet more than 450m litres of beer are exported. It claims much of this finds its way back in to the UK black market – costing the Treasury around £500m in lost duty.

It says duty-paid stamps will help to stop this and will be no-more costly to brewers than other bespoke SKUs. Said FWD’s chief executive James Bielby this week: “The suppliers already manufacturer, store and distribute bespoke variants for different routes to market, and HMRC’s proposal would simply require them to add one more, the unmarked can or bottle for export. Some 95% of UK-brewed beer is consumed in the UK, so it is not a big ask.”

The FWD is also calling for wholesalers to be licensed to sell alcohol in a similar way to retailers and the on-trade. Wholesalers are currently the only part of the supply chain not licensed and Bielby said that while this would put an extra financial and administrative burden on members, the FWD believed it was “a price worth paying”.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) supports the FWD’s proposal for a registration scheme for alcohol wholesalers, but is vehemently against fiscal marks claiming they would add a huge financial burden to brewers already hit by falling sales.

Instead it proposes a 10-point plan that it says eliminates any need for beer stamps or supply chain legislation. The plan centres on collecting and sharing “robust data” on beer movements and trading patterns backed by rigorous “know-your-customer” programmes will help reduce fraud. The plan includes:

• Collated duty-in-suspense sales by trade channel to monitor volume and trends
• Brewers to continue with a regular detailed breakdown of sales to customers in duty-to-suspense to both UK and EU.
• Timely information and intelligence on suspicious trading patterns
• A joint anti-fraud task force is set-up to monitor and evaluate progress against actions, share insights and consider any additional proposals.

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