BBPA: Beer bottle tax stamps will damage pubs and may be illegal

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Beer, Bbpa

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), has told the Government plans to introduce stamps on bottles and cans of beers will damage the pub industry and may be illegal
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), has told the Government plans to introduce stamps on bottles and cans of beers will damage the pub industry and may be illegal
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has called on the Government to abandon plans announced in the Budget for the introduction of tax stamps on every bottle and can of beer saying it will damage pubs and may be illegal.

As part of a renewal of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Alcohol Fraud Strategy, which was announced in the Budget earlier this year​, a consultation on tax stamps and supply chain legislation was opened in March.

Proposals currently call for fiscal marks, or tax stamps, to be placed on all bottles and cans of beer brewed in the UK so suppliers can track products and cut out illicit beer consumption.


However as part of the consultation on the policy, the BBPA has disputed Government figures which estimate between 5 and 14 per cent of total beer consumption is illegal leading to tax losses of around £500m a year.

The organisation has presented a legal opinion from DLA Piper in its submission. The BBPA says HMRC should step up enforcement and stop criminal gangs as opposed to a policy that would 'fail in terms of proportionality, effectiveness, fairness and almost certainly legality and therefore should not be taken forward.'

Damage pubs

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, also says the tax marks could easily be replicated and the policy would set up a dispute between the UK Government and European officials.

"These proposals are bad for brewers, bad for customer choice and almost certainly in breach of EU law. And in terms of tackling fraud, they would simply not work," she said.

Simmonds argues the policy will damage pubs by reducing the choice of beers to drinkers and pushing already high costs up further. The organisation estimates the stamps could cost the beer and pub industry nearly £100m a year.

“There is much that can be done to tackle fraud, and the industry is fully committed to working with HMRC on this. HMRC now has additional resources. What is needed is the stepping up of enforcement, using intelligence and data that the industry is very willing to provide, and is already providing. Measures that impose crippling new costs are not the answer," she added.


An inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group into the issue of beer tax fraud​ is due to announce its findings and recommendations later today - full details will be available on BigHospitality tomorrow.

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1 comment

Tax Stamps on Beer - ridiculous

Posted by Simon,

I am an importer of cider from UK to Poland. Poland demands duty stamps on all ciders, so I have 1st hand experience of the reality of this. It is plainly ridiculous. The application of a stupid sticker to items is a total nonsense, and any revenue it generates is surely swallowed in the extra administration it causes. My company has to but a duty stamp even on cans of cider, messy, destroys the look of the can, and it's an extra cost - that has to be passed to the consumer. It's really pitiful that the govt. dares to complain about "lost revenue" when in the end they make far more money from sales of anything than do the companies who do all the work and move the market. to date, govt. gets about 90pence in excise and Vat on a 50cl can of beer. The application of "stickers" - because that is all they are - is so outdated and stupid that it surprises me that any technologically advanced country would even consider it. It continues in Poland because of the hangover from communism and their love of stamps. We have emcs now for 2 years. I'm all for control of alcohol - not because I feel pity for the govt., who screw everyone over whenever they can, but because people should know what they are drinking and know that it is safe. Don't let another beurocratic office poke their nose into something that generally they don't understand. "I'm just doing my job" is no longer good enough. We want a society where people do their job with thought and not being so childish and petty as putting stickers on goods as if we are in communist russia or the stone-ages.

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