Alcohol Bill will ‘disproportionately impact smaller stores’, says RGDATA

The UK Government is to ban alcohol sales costing less than the cost of duty plus VAT next week following both Houses of Parliament signing off on the measure last week.

Minister Varadkar's new Alcohol Bill receives a mixed response from industry groups



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15 December 2015

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The Public Health Alcohol Bill published by Leo Varadkar has been welcomed by groups including NOffLA and the Vinters’ Federation of Ireland (VFI). Under the new bill, a can of beer will cost a minimum of €1.95, a bottle of wine €8.63, while own-brand supermarket vodka could surge from €13 to €28.

However RGDATA believes provisions on the separation of alcohol products will disproportionately impact smaller family-owned stores with less room to adapt their premises. The association will therefore be making its concerns known to Minister Varadkar and seeking changes to the bill as presented.

Ibec has also said the new Alcohol Bill fails to provide effective measures to tackle the serious problem of alcohol misuse, but instead penalises responsible consumers. The group said the bill is yet another example of government regulation being introduced without any effort being made to establish the wider economic cost. According to Ibec CEO Danny McCoy: “A collaborative approach that involves government, public health authorities, industry and all other stakeholders is required if we are to make real progress.”

On the other hand, NOffLA has welcomed the introduction of a minimum unit price (MUP) on alcohol and  has called for the bill to be “urgently progress[ed]”.

Ban on below-cost selling needed

NOffLA likewise welcomed “the commitment to affordable structural separation” but added that in order for minimum unit pricing to be truly effective, the government needs to introduce a ban on the below invoice cost selling of alcohol. “Such a ban would save the exchequer €24 million per annum and is easily achievable using VAT invoices through the Groceries Order or secondary legislation through Section 16 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008,” the association said.

Meanwhile Tom McCusker, MD for C&C Gleeson, has welcomed the news that the Alcohol Bill 2015 is progressing through the legislative process and has been well received by the Cabinet. The company said MUP “is an important step in helping to reduce the harm caused by strong cheap alcohol” and pointed out that it “has been a supporter of minimum unit pricing since the idea was first tabled in 2010”.

Advertising restrictions

The bill also proposes some restrictions on alcohol advertising which C&C Gleeson supports. However, the company added: “Bulmers is an Irish brand, made and sold in Ireland and nowhere else and we ask the Irish government to make sure that we along with other Irish brands are not penalised by these advertising restrictions. Similar restrictions will not be applicable to international brands that sell in Ireland but are advertised on global or European platforms with high levels of viewing in Ireland, particularly via satellite TV, including large sporting events such as international football championships.”




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