New Alcohol Tax loopholes become evident

“The controversial new law which states that from 1st May no alcohol can be sold in Scottish shops or bars for less than 50p per unit has got several glaring loopholes which have become evident” said Jim Bett, Service Manager at Fife Alcohol Support Service (FASS).

“It's a worrying fact but detailed guidance just published by the Scottish Government has revealed that some people will be able to sidestep the new law by using online or telephone sales, or even 'click and collect' services and these will be exempt from the new tax, provided the alcohol is despatched from outside Scotland.”

Jim added “The supermarket 'meal deals' will also sidestep the new law as long as the total price, including food, exceeds the minimum unit price, and also loyalty reward vouchers can be used to cut the cost of alcohol at the point of sale.”

Jim continued “In relation to 'click and collect' services, these facilities are acting as a postbox/collection point rather than a despatch point: the point of despatch would be where the goods have been despatched from to the 'click and collect' facilities. This is all very confusing and does not bode well for this new legislation.”

Ewan MacDonald Russell, head of policy at the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said “The SRC has been engaged in discussions with the Scottish Government since 2016 on how to reasonably implement a successful minimum unit price for alcohol in Scotland, and we raised the issue of cross-border sales but recognise the provisions of the new law apply only to licensed premises in Scotland.”

Jim Bett concluded “This new law should save hundreds of lives and lead to thousands fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions in Scotland and this is to be closely monitored by FASS and other agencies over the next few years.”

Jim also reminded us that FASS operates throughout Fife offering a free and confidential counselling service which can assist the individual to reduce or eliminate the harmful effects of alcohol, and FASS has a very positive proven record in this field.

His is advice is very clear on this subject – “Just pick up the phone and call FASS on 01592 206200. This can be the starting point, and it really can make a huge difference!”

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