I used parenthesis on the word "problem" deliberately as the total amount of fraud HMRC is hoping to minimise is estimated (at their "implied midpoint") to be in the region of £500 millions in lost beer duty and some £130 millions from spirits for the year 2009/10. By my reckoning that comes to £630 millions in lost duty due to fraud by illegal importing and resale in the whole of the UK.. According to the Office on National Statistics the population of the UK in mid-2010 stood at 62,262,000. So the loss per capita is roughly £10.12.
So what are the arcane masters of the revenue proposing to do to recoup this massive amount we're notionally all depriving the Treasury of? Well let's take a look at the measures that would directly affect pubs (the list of proposals for brewers and wholesalers is a matter for them to consider, although any costs of compliance will undoubtedly be passed on to pubs).
The introduction of "fiscal" marks for packaged beer (cans and bottles) that you will already be familiar with on spirits bottles so that all can see that UK Duty Paid is visible on all packaging. This would enable the Revenue, as HMRC puts it, to "undermine the modus operandi of large scale beer smuggling operations". The proposed marks would apply thus:
I find this all a bit draconian (especially the review of licence threat) when you consider that HMRC's over-lord George Osborne is quoted today to be "shocked" at the aggressive tax avoidance of 20 of Britain’s biggest tax
Don't even get me started on the likes of Amazon ... just suffice it to say that yet again it will be "ordinary" drinkers in pubs up and down the land that will pay the price for HMRC's latest wheeze. Still, at least "we're all in this together"
To have your say on this consultation go to HMRC you've got until June 25th to put your tuppence worth (or £10.12 worth) in.