A cross party group of MPs and peers has called on the government to set up a national Anti-Illicit Trade Group, claiming this could bring in up to £5bn a year in excise duty.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Illicit Trade says that illicit trade cultivates organised crime activity and undermines legitimate businesses, harming consumers, jobs and the broader economy. The APPG claims that “a national strategy including an Anti-Illicit Trade Group has the potential to disrupt criminal supply chains while reclaiming billions for the taxpayer”.
The call for a group is made in the publication of Illicit Trade in the UK by the APPG. The report follows a formal inquiry, which involved business, consumer groups, law enforcement agencies and local and national government providing written and oral evidence to the Group.
Recommendations being made by the Illicit Trade APPG are:
• create a UK Anti-Illicit Trade Group;
• define and implement a UK national Anti-Illicit Trade Strategy;
• commission a UK Anti-Illicit Trade Group Lead; and
• develop the knowledge base to support the UK Anti-Illicit Trade Group.
The report has been broadly welcomed by HMRC ministers and officials. Robert Jenrick MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Illicit trade costs the UK economy billions every year. I look forward to seeing how the APPG’s work can build on our existing efforts to crackdown on this type of trade, which denies vital funding for our public services.”
Matthew Offord MP, chair of the Illicit Trade APPG said: “Illicit trade exists in every constituency, and as parliamentarians we have a duty to investigate what impact this has on consumers, businesses and our public authorities.
“The report is hugely important with implications for people all across the country, from small business, to the high-street shopper to the CEOs of major companies. Our witnesses and stakeholders all demonstrated significant consensus on what needs to be done and we’re delighted to see our recommendations being welcomed by the government.”
Julian Hunt, vice president, public affairs and communications at Coca Cola European Partners, whose company sponsors the APPG, said: “The findings of this report are of huge importance to businesses – big and small alike. An Anti-Illicit Trade Group will enable businesses to work closely with the public sector to provide guidance to officials and help build capacity on enforcement.
“The Implementation Working Group for the Soft Drinks Levy is an existing example of successful collaboration between government and businesses, and we hope an Anti-Illicit Trade Group can take this even further.”