Wine and Spirit Trade Association calls for national solution on below cost selling

8 September 2010

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association is urging the Government to ensure that any agreement on banning below cost-sale of alcohol is made on a national basis to ensure it is workable.

In its response today to the Home Office Consultation on rebalancing the Licensing Act, the WSTA also warns that some of the proposed changes to licensing legislation will load the dice against responsible business when the powers to target problem premises already exist.

The WSTA supports a ban on selling alcohol below the level of "duty plus VAT" on the basis that these are both consumer taxes and therefore the cost should be passed on to the consumer.  

The Association is working with Government on a transparent and fair definition of cost but believes this aspect of the licensing consultation must be applied nationally if it is to meet the needs of consumers and businesses.

Elsewhere the WSTA cautions against an approach which would remove the right of fair hearing and appeal for licensees and encourage local authorities to take action without establishing a robust evidence base.  It urges Government to encourage local authorities to use existing powers both to tackle problem premises and increase community awareness of licensing matters.

The WSTA welcomes Government support for local initiatives such as Community Alcohol Partnerships and urges Ministers to encourage more local authorities to adopt such schemes to address local issues associated with alcohol misuse.

Jeremy Beadles, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:

“It is clear that any initiative to address below cost selling must be agreed nationally if it is to work effectively. A system that produced different price restrictions in different areas would cause confusion for consumers and chaos for businesses.

“While we support the Government’s objectives, we believe that there are more effective ways to tackle alcohol related harm than by tipping the balance of the Licensing Act against responsible retailers.

“Many local authorities use the existing legislation to clamp down on problem premises very effectively so let’s bring all up to this standard, rather than remove the checks and balances in the Licensing Act.

“We want to see local government working with retailers to reduce alcohol harm through measures like Community Alcohol Partnerships, which involve the whole community in tackling alcohol misuse.”


The WSTA is the UK lobbying organisation for the wine and spirit industry representing over 310 companies producing, importing, transporting and selling wines and spirits.
We campaign to promote the industry’s interests with governments at home and abroad.
We work with our members to promote the responsible production, marketing and sale of alcohol.

The WSTA response to the consultation can be found at this link: images/stories/wstaresponsere-balancingthelicensingact.pdf

For more information please contact Gavin Partington:
Tel:  +44 (0) 20 7089 3876
Mob:  +44 (0) 7966 014058
Email: [email protected]

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