ACS Gives Evidence to APPG on Illicit Trade, Calls for Zero Tolerance Approach for Offenders

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has raised concerns about the impact of the non-duty paid alcohol and illicit tobacco trade on the convenience sector during an evidence session in Parliament, recommending more powers for trading standards officers to remove retailers selling non-duty paid alcohol and illicit tobacco from the market.

The oral evidence session of the All-Party Parliamentary Illicit Trade Group heard from ACS Public Affairs Manager Julie Byers about the disconnect between local and national policy on the illicit trade, reflecting retailers’ frustrations when reporting offenders to HMRC but not seeing action being taken at a local level as a result.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The trade in non-duty paid alcohol and illicit tobacco is a significant problem for responsible retailers across the UK that are being undercut by criminals selling illegitimate and sometimes dangerous products. We believe that there should be a zero tolerance approach for those who are engaged in the illicit trade by removing alcohol licences or prohibiting them from trading.”

In a submission to the All-Party Parliamentary Group earlier this year, ACS made the following recommendations to tackle the illicit trade:

  • Trading standards and licensing authorities should work closer together to remove alcohol licences from retailers selling non-duty paid alcohol
  • The government should evaluate the effectiveness of the Alcohol Wholesale Registration Scheme
  • Extending Restricted Premise Orders and Restricted Sales Orders to include illicit tobacco as an offence
  • Granting additional powers to trading standards officers to sanction retailers by using the Customs & Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA) and better intelligence sharing
  • More effective sanctions should be made available to trading standards officers, including the revocation of alcohol licences for selling illicit tobacco

The illicit trade remains a significant problem across the UK, with non-duty paid alcohol costing the Exchequer £1.3bn in 2015-16. Since alcohol tax gap figures were recorded, there has been a steady increase in the tax gap rate for alcohol, with it increasing by 57% from £830m in 2008-09 to £1.3bn in 2015-16. Illicit tobacco cost the Exchequer £2.5bn in 2016-17.

The full submission is available on the ACS website here.

This entry was posted by Chris on Wed, 02/05/2018 - 13:50