(08 Sep 2014)

21st August: Evelyn Jones, Chairperson National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) has called on the Government to meet its commitments to legislate for alcohol consumption and reduce the excise on alcohol, as a matter of urgency. These legislative changes would promote the responsible consumption of alcohol and protect independent businesses that support 5,800 jobs nationally. The call came at the 2014 NOffLA AGM which took place last night at the Red Cow Moran Hotel.

Speaking to NOffLA members, Jones said: “The Government have shown no real urgency in legislating for alcohol consumption and retail. Earlier this month we learned that the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will not be published until next year. We are still in the dark as to how the Minister for Health proposes to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing when it is still  currently with the European Court of Justice, and we have been awaiting a statutory code of practice on the retail of alcohol “in the coming weeks” since March. Meanwhile our sector, which upholds the highest standards in the responsible retail of alcohol, continues to lose out to many large multiples and mixed-traders who sell alcohol at dangerous and irresponsible prices and promotions.”

“NOffLA welcomed the above measures upon their announcement, given their potential to benefit both the consumer and the responsible retailer. Our sector is on the brink of failure due to a combination to irresponsible practices by supermarkets and consecutive unfair and disproportionate excise duty increases. Addressing the pricing and retail of alcohol has the capacity to level the playing field for all retailers and provide a lifeline to an integral part of the community.”

“Of course, by the time these measures come into effect, many of us, sadly, may no longer be in business due to the crippling levels of excise duty we pay on our sole product. Our research shows us that 58% of independent off-licences may be forced to close if a further hike to the excise on alcohol is announced. Conversely, 56% of our members surveyed have stated that if excise were reversed to pre-2012 levels they could take on extra staff which would result in the creation of a minimum of 960 jobs.”

Throughout the AGM, members also voiced their concern over an increasing difficulty in accessing SME credit and its knock-on effect in damaging vital supply chains.

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