Wholesale industry celebrates decrease in illicit beer sales 

illicit beer sales 

Since the introduction of the Alcohol Wholesale Registration Scheme in 2017, the amount of beer sold without duty being paid has fallen from £850m in 2016/17 to £600m in 17/18, a 30% reduction, which represents a £250m increase in revenue for the Exchequer.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD), which fought for the scheme to be introduced, says the figures from HMRC’s Measuring Tax Gaps statistics is a win for legitimate wholesalers, retailers, and taxpayers, and is also reflected in increased sales for its wholesaler members.

FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “It is clear that the introduction of AWRS in 2017 was hugely successful in returning duty revenue to the treasury, and sales to legitimate wholesalers. This is reflected in FWD members’ own experience, as they saw an increase in trade in the months after the registration scheme was introduced. An extra £250m going to the government instead of to criminals – that’s a fantastic result for a scheme which was suggested by FWD, promoted by wholesalers, and embraced by responsible retailers.”

Under the scheme, alcohol retailers must ensure that they are buying from a registered source by asking for the wholesalers Unique Registration Number and checking it against an online look-up service. They must also keep a record of this check. Wholesalers applied for registration before the scheme was introduced, and were inspected by HMRC to ensure they are ‘fit and proper’ traders. All FWD wholesalers which trade in alcohol are AWRS registered.

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Paul Hill
Paul Hill is the Editor of Better Wholesaling. Paul can be found on Twitter on @BW_PaulHill, or can be contacted via paul.hill@newtrade.co.uk and 020 7689 3376.

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