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Published on September 30th, 2011 | by Dean Carr

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Brighton Council seeks VAT rise for off-licence sales

Brighton & Hove City Council is the first local authority to call for the Government to set differential rates of VAT for the on and off-trades to help combat the cheap booze fuelling binge drinking.
In a letter to the Home Secretary, signed by council chief executive John Barradell, licensing committee chair Lizzie Deane and director of public health Tom Scanlon, the council calls for a differential VAT rate for pubs and supermarkets.

The call is in line with the Publican’s Morning Advertiser’s campaign for a cut in VAT to 5% for pubs.

The letter notes that “in-creased affordability within the retail trade (shops and supermarkets) is blamed for street drinking, pre-loading and binge drinking”, but that it is “virtually impossible to establish a link between alcohol misuse and specific off-sale retail outlets”.

It added: “As individual outlets cannot be targeted effectively, more general pricing controls are required.

“We urge you to adopt differential pricing of alcohol as a course of action.”

Councillor Deane said: “A lot of work is going on in Brighton & Hove to enforce licensing regulations and deal with concerns about alcohol, but we cannot
control prices in supermarkets and shops that lead people to ‘pre-load’ on cheap alcohol before they go out for the night.

“This is a national issue — it is not unique to Brighton & Hove — which is why we are calling on the Government to increase the VAT on alcohol sold in off-licences, shops and supermarkets, to make it less affordable.
“We are also supporting different VAT levels for on and off-licence sales. Sales of alcohol from on-licensed premises are more controlled — people are drinking in a regulated environment and are not served more alcohol if they are drunk.”

Nick Griffin, spokesman for the Brighton & Hove Licensees Association, welcomed the support. “For too long the on-trade has been held responsible for problems not of its making, while the real culprits in the off-trade have turned a blind eye.

“At last an enlightened city council has recognised where some of the issues lie and is prepared to back positive action to differentiate between the on and off-trades.

“Different VAT rates between the on and off-trades will help promote responsible alcohol retailing, favouring the on-trade where alcohol is sold and consumed in a supervised environment.”

The PMA’s petition to cut VAT has reached 3,308 signatures. Sign up at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/1198.

Source : Morning Advertiser

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About the Author

Dean Carr

Dean has been involved in alcohol licensing for over 20 years and has helped many independent retailers and corporate clients obtain a licence to sell alcohol or offer late night refreshment, regulated entertainment from all sorts of premises. Dean writes articles for various trade related blogs and is currently Managing Director of the PLT group of companies who run APLH and SCPLH personal alcohol licence courses nationwide. You can contact Dean or a member of his expert licensing team on: 01242 222 188



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