THE Government has abandoned immediate plans to introduce fiscal stamps on beer bottles, which critics argued would have cost the brewing industry millions.
Treasury minister Sajid Javid confirmed the Government would be looking at ‘less burdensome’ options to address alcohol fraud.
The Government launched a consultation on the introduction of beer stamps in March last year, claiming it would help cut £500 million in fraud.
In response, the All-Party Parliamentary Group, chaired by Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, carried out an investigation into the level of alcohol fraud on beer and presented a report to Government.
It claimed fiscal stamps were ‘premature’ and Mr Griffiths himself said he felt the plans were ‘victimising beer’ and would lead to ‘job losses in the brewing industry’.
However, now the plans have been dropped, Mr Griffiths told the Mail he applauded the Government for ‘seeing sense’.
He said: “I think it is a huge relief to brewers in Burton and across the country that the Government has listened to the arguments and have abandoned any current plans for introducing duty stamps.
“As the investigation I chaired identified, the proposals would have been hugely complicated and bureaucratic and would have cost the brewing industry millions of pounds to introduce and administer.
“I applaud the Government for seeing sense and scrapping it.”
Mr Griffiths did though sound a warning to brewers that the issue of alcohol fraud would not go away and the industry did need to take action.
He said: “Duty fraud and smuggling of illegal beer remains a major problem and the challenge is for the brewers to work harder to stamp this out.
“If they don’t I have no doubt that this proposal could be brought up again some time in the future.
“The treasury and taxpayers are losing millions of pounds and that can’t go on.”
The Government said it will consider a large number of alternative measures to fight alcohol fraud.
This includes many proposed by the industry itself.