Bars and drinking establishments who fail to check out the legitimacy and credentials of their suppliers could face fines of up to five thousand pounds fine and license sanctions under suggested government laws. The proposal would make pub owners responsible for ensuring that the suppliers they use are trustworthy and have been registered into an online database, or be reprimanded by the HMRC.
These new sanctions are being considered to assist in tackling alcohol fraud, an illegal practice that costs the economy big every year and helps fund criminal activity. Internal estimates of the fraud across beer, wine, and spirits suggest losses may be as high as £1 billion per annum. With alcohol, this predominantly involves abuse of the excise holding & movement system which allows payment of duty on goods to be ‘suspended’ while they circulate between registered warehouses in the EU, until released for consumption.
This new database for suppliers and potential heavy penalties for pubs and bars is intended to make it more difficult for criminals to sell and clamp down on drinking establishments who intentionally or accidentally serve customers fake or illegally untaxed alcohol to their customers.
In an industry already heavily monitored and regulated, industry spokespeople have supported the new measures providing they are introduced without unnecessary bureaucracy.