Speaking during the first meeting of the Beer Tax Fraud Inquiry in the House of Commons on Tuesday he told told the panel of MPs: “We are not disputing that fraud is an issue but the solution has to be proportionate. And the industry has been asked to bear a huge amount of additional costs.
“There is a determination to tackle duty fraud but my main concern though is in relation to the proposals that have been put forward and whether they are a proportionate response.
“I do not believe the estimates the HMRC have produced are credible.”
He suggested that the HMRC prediction that there is £500m of beer duty fraud was too high. The BBPA predicts the number is lower at between 3 -4% of the beer market – equating to £200m.
He also claimed that research conducted by KPMG on behalf of the BBPA did confirm that the estimates of the HMRC were not strong enough to base these proposals on.
However James Bielby, chief executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) responded.
“I don’t think there is much mileage to be had in saying that numbers right and that numbers wrong. We know there is a problem and even if that is £200m that is still a big problem.
“It’s very useful for BBPA to divert the conversation into the numbers rather than look at the practical solutions. We know there is an issue and we want to tackle it saying this number is wrong and that number is wrong is a waste of time.”
A website has been set up providing details of the inquiry at www.beertaxinquiry.co.uk