Trade welcomes levy delay

ASSURANCES that the Scottish Government will not introduce a social responsibility levy until 2015 at the earliest have been welcomed by the on-trade.

Confirmation that a so-called ‘clean up tax’ would be delayed came as finance secretary John Swinney outlined details of the public health supplement, to be paid by large retail outlets which sell alcohol and tobacco and have a rateable value over £300,000.
The Scottish Government confirmed it had no plans to use its powers under the Alcohol Act to introduce a social responsibility levy during the three year period of the public health supplement.
SBPA boss Patrick Browne said the delay would give operators certainty, but he said the public health supplement could impact on publicans.
“This will cost primarily supermarkets nearly £300 million and that could mean they apply extra commercial pressure on brewers and drinks companies to recoup some of that cost which, in turn, could lessen the support available from brewers for pubs going forward,” said Browne.
The Scottish Retail Consortium said the supplement discriminated against a small number of businesses.
“Allowing profitable businesses to be raided in this way creates significant uncertainty around future investment,” said director Ian Shearer.