Scots retailers to pay levy to sell booze

12 February, 2008

Drinks retailers in Scotland could be forced to pay extra fees if they want to continue selling alcohol in the future under government proposals to stamp out problem 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 discussed this spring, MacAskill wants the introduction of a levy for drinks retailers that would go towards paying for the consequences 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 heavily."

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.

Dr Brian Gibbons, the Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, launched the consultation Working Together to Reduce Harm yesterday asking for views on a 10 year strategy to tackle alcohol and drug misuse.

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