AWRS: HMRC writes to businesses warning them to register or “face the consequences”

Today (February 12) it was announced that Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Damian Hinds has written to thousands of businesses urging them to apply for the new Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS).

Wholesalers that sell alcohol to other businesses have until March 31 to apply to register for the HM Revenue and Customs scheme.

The scheme is designed to ensure alcohol supplied to retailers, pubs, restaurants and other outlets that sell to consumers – is legitimate and will ensure traders are not struggling against those trading illegally, who are responsible for a significant part of the £1.2bn a year in unpaid alcohol duty.

HMRC will assess whether wholesalers are “fit and proper”. This involves considering factors like connections to convicted alcohol fraudsters, whether proper checks are done to protect the business from receiving illegal supplies and proper record-keeping.

Wholesalers failing to meet the “fit and proper” test will not be able to trade in alcohol and face fines if they continue. Businesses will need to provide information such as types of customer, products sold, premises used and details of their main suppliers, when they apply.

James Bielby, Chief Executive of the FWD, which has long lobbied for establishment of AWRS said: “AWRS is an important development in the government and industry working together to beat alcohol duty fraud.

“The scheme will help drive duty fraudsters out of the alcohol trade and this is great news for legitimate businesses and taxpayers alike.”

Retailers will have to buy from approved wholesalers from April 2017. HMRC will publish details of approved wholesalers online.

There will be more on this story in the February issue of Wholesale News, out next week.

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