NOffLA criticises Government for failing to insulate drinks industry in Budget 2018

(10 Oct 2017)

10th October 2017: The National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) has today criticised the Government’s decision not to decrease excise duty on alcohol in Budget 2018. The decision will leave the independent off-licence sector exposed to Brexit-related pressures including increased cross-border shopping, considering the devalued Sterling and the asymmetrical levels of VAT and excise.

Commenting on today’s announcement Evelyn Jones, Government Affairs Director of NOffLA stated; “NOffLA acknowledges the Government’s decision to retain the current level of excise on alcohol, but is disappointed that Government has failed to recognise the Brexit-related threats that the independent off-licence sector is facing.”

“Even with the growth in Ireland’s economy, independent SMEs such as off-licences are still trading in a difficult economic environment, and today’s announcement fails to relieve pressure on our embattled sector.”

“Since 2008 some 3,000 jobs – 34 per cent of the sector - have been lost, and 554 Off-licences have closed. Business owners across Ireland still face significant difficulties and challenges, and this has been exacerbated significantly by the impact of Brexit. While excise has not been increased in Budget 2018 it is also important to note that consumers still have to pay the highest rate of excise on wine in the EU – 175% above the EU average”.

“NOffLA views this as a punitive regime which deeply affects both our domestic producers and our international partners. We believe that this is making Ireland an unattractive place in which to do business, limiting the choice available to Irish consumers, and discouraging foreign investment in this country. This extreme difference between our excise and our European partners is unsustainable and needs to be addressed by the Government going forward.”

“NOffLA members are at the heart of their communities, and are committed to serving local consumers and community members. Were excise to have been reduced, we believe the Government would have shown a commitment to creating jobs in communities all across Ireland. Our members’ survey shows that such a move could have created approximately 1,786 jobs in off-licences across the country.”

“NOffLA again calls on the Government to act on its commitment to the health of Irish people all across the country by restoring the ban on below invoice cost selling of alcohol. Such a ban would save the exchequer €24 million per annum through recouped VAT and would safeguard communities across Ireland. Selling cheap alcohol to increase footfall in mixed retailers is irresponsible retailing, and poses a serious threat to communities through alcohol abuse and anti-social behaviour”.

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