dodgy distributors
Illicit trade

The illegal trade in alcohol and tobacco represents the biggest threat to the profitability of law-abiding wholesalers in the food and drink sector.

Duty-avoided beers, wine and spirits cost the Exchequer £1.3bn in lost revenue in 2020/21 as criminal gangs have taken trade away from legitimate wholesalers.

Since the introduction of the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme in April 2017 (a scheme which was proposed to Government by the FWD) we’ve seen a marked decline in the illicit trade in alcohol. Consequently sales are returning to responsible, registered wholesalers and at the same time revenue is rightly returned to the Exchequer.

The tax gaps report that is produced annually by HMRC is a useful indicator to demonstrate the progress of AWRS. FWD are aware that HMRC are looking to scrap part of the tax gaps report that breakdowns the beer, spirits and wine market by the illicit market, legitimate market and cross border shopping. FWD are lobbying to maintain this crucial part of the report.

Trace and trace

FWD are supportive of ensuring tobacco products are safe from fraudulent activity, but members have struggled with the implementation of the trace and trace requirements. With the UK now committed to leaving the EU, the future of the scheme is uncertain.

FWD has been working extensively to ensure that wholesalers concerns about the implementation of this new system are acknowledged. This work has taken place through meetings and regular calls with HMRC, submitting written questions to Parliament and working with the Association of Convenience Stores on joint representations to the Government.