Action on alcohol fraud and pricing tops the FWD’s recommendations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer ahead of the Budget on March 23, but it is also calling on him to promote economic growth for businesses generally.
In its submission, FWD urges the Government to ensure that alcohol fraud, which is estimated to cost the public purse over £1bn a year, is treated as a priority area for action. “This fraud is costing the Exchequer much needed tax receipts and is also undercutting prices and having a severe impact on the economic viability of legitimate traders,” it warns. “Some FWD members are reporting losses of up to 40% on alcohol sales such is the scale of the fraud, and their businesses are subsequently being threatened with closure.”
It also strongly recommends that the Government urgently reviews the operation of the duty drawback system, after the Treasury’s own figures last week revealed that more than 20% of the money paid out in drawback was going to fraudsters.
In addition, FWD urges the Government to carefully consider the impact that duty increases on alcohol have on fraud, as it believes duty rises act as an incentive to fraudsters who are trading in non-duty-paid goods.
It also calls for restraint on the National Minimum Wage and business rates, and urges the Government to retain the current zero rate of VAT for food.
FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “At this challenging time for the British economy, we urge the Government to deliver a Budget that fosters sustainable economic growth for UK businesses and that recognizes the key part the wholesale sector will play in economic recovery.”
FWD also calls on the Government to clamp down on tobacco smuggling and for a freeze in the planned 1p duty increase on fuel in April, and urges the Government to undertake a wider review of fuel duty and its impacts.