Alcohol retailers are calling on the government not to tar the on and off-trade with the same brush in its new code of good practice aimed at reducing binge drinking.
Guidelines for producing and retailing alcohol are being drawn up in response to the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy, with a preliminary version expected next month.
Trade groups and suppliers involved in consultations have been told the code may ask
national suppliers to pay into a fund which would be used to bankroll alcohol misuse schemes.
Local retailers would be asked to contribute to council-run projects aimed at reducing alcohol-related disorder, for example extra street cleaning or late-night transport.
At an Association of Convenience Stores off-licence forum, spokesman Shane Brennan said there were fears the forthcoming code would be unnecessarily punitive on retailers. “The danger is you end up with a ‘one size fits all approach’,” he said. “It would be hugely unfair if traders had to pay into a local levy for night-time buses for people coming out of bars as that’s not an off-trade issue.”
Brennan was hopeful there had been a shift by government towards differentiating between the on and off-trades after lobbying from retailers.
It comes after a summer alcohol enforcement campaign, when 51% of pubs and bars were found to be selling to under-age teenagers against the off-trade’s tally of 32%.
The ACS said the trade did not understand why it was being asked to dig even deeper when it contributed to the industry’s national responsible drinking campaign being led by the Portman Group. Chris Mitchener, from Lockett & Co, asked why the government could not ringfence duty from growth in alcohol sales for projects.