FWD on today’s Budget: Wholesalers happy with duty delays, fuel freezes and new tax enforcers

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors has praised the announcement in today’s Budget that wholesalers and retailers will be given longer notice of duty rises to enable them to sell through alcohol stock.

Under the Government’s new annual tax policymaking cycle, alcohol duty rises announced in the Autumn Budget will come into force on February 1 next year – a delay FWD had requested of the Chancellor, as it enables wholesalers to plan Christmas pricing with the reassurance that duty will not rise until the new year.

Welcoming the freeze on beer, wines and spirits in this Budget, FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “If duty rates must rise it is absolutely vital that they are telegraphed well in advance or wholesalers’ trading plans for the busiest time of the year would be impossible to draw up. The Office of Budget Responsibility has said it expects the change to be largely neutral for tax receipts, so it’s a concession the Government can afford to make to help the wholesale trade maintain its profitability.”

The announcement of a new duty band on ciders to be introduced in 2019 was also welcomed by FWD. James Bielby said: “We have told HMRC that legislation is the only way to regulate the sale of white ciders, as asking wholesalers to voluntarily de-list or sell above market prices has a serious knock-on effect on other product sales. We will work with HMRC on any increased duty rate and with cider producers to look at how lower abvs will perform in the channel.”

The continued freeze on fuel duty is a boost for the distribution industry which is facing increased costs in accessing city centres and replacing older diesel engined vehicles.

FWD will also press the Government to ensure that the new tax compliance resource announced today is used to enforce the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme which was introduced this year, and to make sure the Soft Drinks Levy is not bypassed by products coming from abroad when it launches in 2018.

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