The significant investment in preventing the illicit trade in alcohol and cigarettes announced in today’s Budget is promising news for legitimate wholesalers and retailers, says the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD).
Chancellor George Osborne announced the creation of a new national alcohol control room and a mobile taskforce which will tackle alcohol diversion fraud at duty-suspended warehouses and cash and carrys. The government estimates that the taskforce will reduce the duty revenue lost to alcohol fraud by £840m over six years.
The government will also expand the number of criminal investigation teams in HMRC working on tobacco fraud by 50% and recruit additional Crown Prosecution Service staff to manage additional prosecutions.
FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “Today’s announcement acknowledges the huge effect that illicit trade has on the national purse and on those wholesalers and retailers who trade within the law. Reducing alcohol fraud by £845m over six years is good news for taxpayers and excellent news for the legitimate trade. Combined with the forthcoming registration scheme for alcohol wholesalers, this extra enforcement activity will make it very much harder for criminals to trade in duty-evaded alcohol.
“FWD members regularly cite competition with the illicit trade as their biggest barrier to growth, and we are very pleased to see that the Government is listening to us and supporting law-abiding wholesalers.”