Government fails to address below cost ban

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage, Home office

Supermarkets: escaped below cost ban for now
Supermarkets: escaped below cost ban for now
The below cost ban on alcohol has been excluded from the Social Responsibility and Policing Bill. The promised ban on below cost sales of alcohol...

The below cost ban on alcohol has been excluded from the Social Responsibility and Policing Bill.

The promised ban on below cost sales of alcohol had expected to be included in the bill but the Home Office confirmed it had not been taken forward in the bill.

The Home Office remains committed to implementing a ban on below cost sales of alcohol but is believed to be struggling over the definition and how it could be implemented.

The Government is under pressure from supermarkets and the Wine and Spirit Trade Association to use its definition of below cost — duty plus VAT.

The Home Office said a separate announcement on the below cost ban on alcohol would be made by the end of the year.

Yesterday's report on alcohol taxation also failed to address the below cost ban while the Health White Paper said: "The Home Office is committed to implementing the ban on selling alcohol below cost without delay."

On Radio 4's Today​ programme this morning, British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said she feared the Government had decided the ban was "too difficult" to include in the Bill.

"This delay will only add to pubs' woes at a time when so many are struggling to survive.  Pubs are already set to be hit hard by a VAT increase to 20% in the New Year which they simply cannot afford to absorb so will have to pass on to customers," said Campaign for Real Ale chief executive Mike Benner said: "This means that the differential in prices between pubs and supermarkets will continue to widen.

"This Christmas, you only need to look at the incredibly low alcohol prices in supermarkets to see just how desperately we need to curb their irresponsible behaviour. 

"Beer in supermarkets can be as much as six times cheaper than beer sold in pubs, which is driving people away from the responsible, regulated environment of well-run pubs and leading many to drink at home."

Related topics: Legislation