FWD prompts Budget action on duty fraud

The FWD has been praised for persuading the Chancellor to include new measures in the Budget to stamp down on duty fraud.

Speakers at the FWD Annual Conference congratulated the Federation, and its director general John Murphy, on their success in lobbying HM Revenue Customs.

FWD chairman Francis Ball told the conference: “It is not often that an organisation of this nature has a direct impact on the contents of the Budget, so it was very gratifying that the Chancellor actually concluded with specific reference to changes in procedures that would be applied on April 1 on the way that duty drawback would be handled. This was a direct result of the work by the FWD on that score.”

Another speaker, Landmark Wholesale trading director John Searle, said: “The FWD and John Murphy must be applauded for their efforts to provoke legislative change and it is encouraging to see that as part of last week’s Budget HM Revenue Customs has announced it is clarifying its guidance to tighten up the verification of claims for drawback.”

The FWD had been campaigning hard on the issue because of a massive increase in duty fraud on beer. Wholesalers complained that unscrupulous operators were selling beer at prices that could only be possible if duty was being evaded, hitting legitimate wholesalers’ sales hard in a vital category for the industry.

FWD pointed out that the boom in illicit beer sales had been mirrored by a massive increase in drawback of excise duty on beer notionally destined for export, and called for much tighter controls.

In his presentation Searle said claims for duty drawback leapt six fold in 2005/06 compared with the previous year.

In the Budget the Chancellor announced much stronger controls over duty drawback, and warned the situation would be kept under review.

l For more on the Budget change see page 10

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