Pubs could face £10,000 fine over using illicit wholesalers

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Scrutiny: licensees will need to check wholesalers are registered
Scrutiny: licensees will need to check wholesalers are registered

Related tags: Marketing, Hmrc

Pubs trading with illicit wholesalers could face a fine of up to £10,000, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has warned.

The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS), which comes into force on 1 April 2017, has been set up to tackle alcohol fraud.

It will introduce a central register of all those trading alcohol. Wholesale businesses will be required to meet certain standards and be approved by HMRC prior to trading.

Any licensee found purchasing stock from an unregistered wholesaler could be fined up to £10,000 and have their goods confiscated, HMRC has confirmed to The Morning Advertiser ​(MA​).

The Government department said it would work with pub businesses in such circumstances to find out why this has happened and the reason would affect the amount of penalty that is charged.

Licensees would need to carry out sufficient due diligence, checking the authenticity of the wholesaler before they do business with them.

They will be able to check whether their supplier is registered with a new online facility available via the gov.uk website. This would allow trade buyers to look up the details of their alcohol suppliers to ensure that they are approved under the AWRS.

The AWRS will see new powers created to deal with wholesalers not registered: any goods found on the premises of an unregistered business will be liable for seizure, whether or not duty has been paid.

A HMRC spokesman told MA​: “Licensed premises will need to ensure that they are sourcing their alcohol from HMRC-approved wholesalers.”

The scheme was announced after HMRC abandoned plans to introduce fiscal stamps on beer bottles in 2013 because of the significant cost it would place on brewers.

It was announced in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement in 2013 with the aim to tackle the estimated alcohol duty fraud costs of £1bn a year.

The AWRS was originally due to start in October 2015 but was delayed due to "technical issues".

Related topics: News, Legislation, Food

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