Scottish off-trade could face extra fees on alcohol
Published:  22 February, 2008

Drinks retailers in Scotland could be forced to pay extra fees to sell alcohol in the future under government proposals to stamp out problems associated with drinking.

Justice

secretary Kenny MacAskill's "polluter pays" tax, originally only intended for pubs and clubs, will also be considered for the off-trade, a spokeswoman told OLN.

Under proposals to be consulted on this spring, MacAskill wants to introduce a levy for drinks retailers that would go towards paying for the results of binge drinking, such as additional policing and

extra accident and emergency staff in hospitals.

"We need the resources to pay for the consequences of Scotland's drinking culture, whether it's doing something about people clogging up casualty units or educating young people about the dangers," MacAskill told The Scotsman.

"Somebody has to meet the medical and social consequences. Those who are making profits from alcohol are those who have to pay for it."

The news has angered Scottish drinks retailers. "Simply blanket taxing the retail drinks industry is outrageous," said Richard Bray of Luvians Bottle Shop in Fife.

"The government would do better to put higher taxes on products like alcopops and shooters that actively encourage young people to drink."

John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers' Federation, called the proposed levy "unfair and disproportionate" because drinks retailers in problem-free areas could still be liable to pay the levy.

"We have enforcement arrangements in place in order to tackle antisocial behaviour and we should be using them. It's not the retailers' fault that the police are under-resourced," he said.

Drummond said he would be writing to MacAskill with his views and would respond to the consultation document when issued.

The Welsh Assembly is also calling for taxes to be increased on alcohol and stricter rules on the promotion of drink as part of plans to reduce alcohol harm.




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