Wholesale register plan is put on hold

02 October, 2015

HM Revenue & Customs has delayed the implementation of the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme until the new year because of IT issues.

Registration for the scheme was originally due to open on October 1 but will now begin on January 1.

The scheme is being introduced in a bid to eradicate rogue traders selling stock where duty has not been paid.

Anyone involved in the wholesaling of alcohol – including retailers with a wholesaling sideline – will be required to register and face checks on their suitability to be approved as a legitimate wholesaler.

There will also be a duty on retailers to check that wholesalers from which they source stock are registered as part of the scheme.

After an initial registration period, the scheme is scheduled to come into full effect in 2017.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors – which campaigned for the introduction of the scheme – claimed the delay was prompted by concerns about data input, particularly relating to group applications.

In a statement on the delay HMRC said: “Rigorous pre- launch testing has revealed some technical issues that need to be fixed before the service is launched.

“We are committed to giving customers a fully tested, first class system.

“We have chosen a new launch date to make sure the service is right before making it widely available, and to avoid putting an additional burden on industry during the busy winter trading period. This will include inviting a selection of customers to use the system from October 1, and provide us with feedback which we will use to refine it.

“We will then open the scheme to all customers on January 1, 2016.”

That was originally the date that HMRC officers were due to start inspections to vet applicants to the scheme.

FWD chief executive James Bielby said the late postponement was “very frustrating for us and our members”.

He added: “Members have volunteered to test the application process over the past six months, and we have put considerable effort into informing them and other stakeholders of their obligations and the original timeline.

“However, we appreciate that the application process must be absolutely watertight before it is launched, and the delay will give HMRC time to ensure that applications are recorded and processed correctly and help deliver an effective registration scheme.”

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