Wholesaler registration scheme must not legitimise rogue traders

Duty fraud costs the industry £1.2bn each year

The key to the success of a new wholesaler registration scheme aimed at tackling duty fraud is making sure it does not legitimise the rogue traders who are abusing the system, according to the Federation of Wholesale Distributors.

The FWD initially proposed the scheme as one of a number of measures to halt the current loss of £1.2bn each year to the illicit alcohol trade.

It also called for spirits-style duty stamps to be put on bottles and cans of beer. Last month, after a lengthy consultation, the government accepted the need for the registration scheme. However, it rejected duty stamps, saying the measure would be too costly for brewers. This week, the government kicked off a new consultation to examine how the registration scheme will work.

“Although the scheme will place an administrative burden on members, it is one they are prepared to bear if it means that no one is able to purchase and sell duty-avoided stock,” said FWD chief executive James Bielby. “We will be pushing for strict criteria which ensure that only law-abiding wholesalers are approved for registration.”

The consultation is due to run until 28 October.