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Minister urges wholesalers to register for alcohol scheme

Press Release   •   Feb 12, 2016 11:10 GMT

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Damian Hinds has written to thousands of businesses urging them to apply for the new Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme.

Wholesalers that sell alcohol to other businesses have until March 31 to apply to register for the HM Revenue and Customs scheme.

The scheme is designed to ensure alcohol supplied to retailers – the shops, pubs, restaurants and other outlets that sell to consumers – is legitimate and will ensure traders are not struggling against those trading illegally, who are responsible for a significant part of the £1.2bn a year in unpaid alcohol duty.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Damian Hinds said:

“AWRS will protect the hardworking taxpayer from being undercut by the illegal traders dealing in illicit alcohol. I urge any business that sells alcohol to other businesses to check now whether they need to apply. Don’t leave it too late.

“This scheme will help drive criminals out of the supply chain and put money into the public purse where it belongs.”

HMRC will assess whether wholesalers are ‘fit and proper’. This involves considering factors like connections to convicted alcohol fraudsters, whether proper checks are done to protect the business from receiving illegal supplies and proper record-keeping.

Wholesalers failing to meet the ‘fit and proper’ test will not be able to trade in alcohol and face fines if they continue. Businesses will need to provide information such as types of customer, products sold, premises used and details of their main suppliers, when they apply.

Laura Pollard, HMRC’s Deputy Director for Alcohol and Tobacco, said:

“Businesses should spare themselves the last-minute panic and get their applications submitted now.

“We want to help legitimate businesses grow and prosper. This scheme will play a key part in that by driving traders prepared to sell illegal alcohol out of business.”

James Bielby, Chief Executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, said:

“AWRS is an important development in the government and industry working together to beat alcohol duty fraud.

“The scheme will help drive duty fraudsters out of the alcohol trade and this is great news for legitimate businesses and taxpayers alike."

Retailers will have to buy from approved wholesalers from April 2017. HMRC will publish details of approved wholesalers online.

Notes to Editors

1. More details about registering are available here.

2. Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

3. HMRC's Flickr channel:

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.