A radical overhaul of government policy on illict alcohol sales could recover the £5bn lost to duty fraud and smuggling while supporting the legitimate trade, according to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

As Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to reduce public spending, and with rises in business taxes expected in next month’s emergency budget, ACS has indicated that significant savings could be made by cracking down on duty-avoiding criminals.

In its Emergency Budget submission to the government, the association called for a radical re-think of enforcement, agency responsibilities and sentencing for alcohol and tobacco duty fraud. Chief executive James Lowman said that the government needed to start recouping the revenue lost through duty fraud and smuggling.
“We need a new strategy to clamp down on illegal tobacco and alcohol sales in neighbourhoods, pubs and out of the back of white vans,” said Lowman. “The Chancellor must explore every option for tackling the deficit before imposing greater costs through taxation. Number one priority should be the lost revenue through smuggled tobacco and alcohol.”
The entire ACS Emergency Budget submission can be found here.