“Real improvements” to the way enforcement agencies and industry work together to stamp out illicit booze are set to be delivered over the next six months, HMRC has claimed.

Following the second meeting of the Joint Alcohol Tasforce on Monday (28 July), HMRC said it had kicked off a “substantial programme” aimed at stamping out the estimated £1.2bn lost to duty fraud each year.

This had already led to signficant progress against fraud over the past six months, HMRC said, and further improvements were in the pipeline.

These included establishing best practice guidelines for local enforcement and new anti-fraud due diligence requirements for the excise trade market. The taskforce would also look to improve how the scale of the illicit market was estimated, a spokeswoman added.

The taskforce, which is headed by Exchequer Secretary Priti Patel and chaired by HMRC director general for business tax Jim Harra, was developed so senior leaders could collaborate on cracking down on the trade of illicit alcohol.

“Tackling alcohol fraud is a priority for HMRC,” said Harra.