- Published on Monday, 19 March 2012 16:44
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation has welcomed assurances from the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Nicola Sturgeon, that there will be no increase in licensing fees to fund the enforcement of minimum unit pricing.
SGF wrote to the Cabinet Secretary after the Financial Statement accompanying the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) Scotland Bill stated that there could be a review of fee income if the Bill increased the workload of LSOs. A number of local authorities also raised their concerns with the Finance Committee about how they would meet any additional costs arising from the Bill.
Commenting on the letter from the Cabinet Secretary SGF Chief Executive, John Drummond, said:
“This is a welcome response from Nicola Sturgeon. The 2005 Licensing Act has cost the convenience sector an additional £22m over the last three years with a recently completed review of licensing showing that around 41% of local authorities were profiteering from licensing fees despite a statutory obligation not to do this.
“A further increase resulting from the minimum pricing legislation would be intolerable, especially given our opposition to the proposed Bill. We welcome the cabinet Secretary’s assurance that the Scottish Government has no plans to raise licence fees.”
- Published on Monday, 19 March 2012 15:13
HM Government has announced that from 1 October 2012 the adult rate of the National Minimum Wage will increase by 11 pence to £6.19 an hour whilst the Youth Development Rate will be frozen at £4.98 an hour.
Commenting on the announcement SGF Chief Executive, John Drummond, said:
“We welcome the Government’s recognition that freezing the youth development rate is a sensible approach during what is an incredibly difficult time for retailers which are faced with rising costs across the board.
“Unfortunately the same logic hasn’t been extended to the adult rate. Research shows that a 2 percent rise, on top of other employee costs like NI contributions and holiday entitlement, will mean that the actual cost per hour to a retailer for a full time employee will be £7.23.”
- Published on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 15:36
Commenting on SGF research which has found a catalogue of serious problems with the administration of the alcohol licensing regime SGF Chief Executive, John Drummond, said:
“In 2010 the Regulatory Review Group found a litany of problems with how local authorities and licensing boards were discharging their duties and obligations under the 2005 Licensing Act.
“Amongst its findings the group stated that the costs of selling alcohol had become prohibitively more expensive and that too many local authorities were profiting from the licensing system. Our research has confirmed the findings of the review group.
“Due to a myriad of different and often unaccountable systems of licensing and with too many local authorities charging more in fees than the cost of issuing licences, these figures show that licence holders are paying over the odds for a system which is cumbersome and which is lining the pockets of some local authorities.
“Retailers continue to struggle with a particularly tough trading environment and every additional pound given to local authorities, or spent untangling the bureaucracy of licensing, is a pound less that retailers can invest making their businesses more viable through lower grocery prices and employing staff.
“To paraphrase the Scottish Government; it is not the price of alcohol which makes our bananas more expensive, it is the cost of disproportionate bureaucratic burdens like these.”
A copy of the summary report can be accessed here
- Published on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 15:23
Commenting on the publication of the Health and Sport Committee’s report on the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill SGF Chief Executive, John Drummond, said:
“This balanced report is not the ringing endorsement the Scottish Government could have expected given its majority on the Committee.
“The report fairly and accurately reflects the genuine and legitimate concerns from a wide range of individuals and organisations including the impact on low income and moderate drinkers, cross-border and internet sales and the legality of the policy.
“SGF remains sceptical about the effectiveness and proportionality of minimum pricing and about some of the practical implications of the policy such as a possible increase in the licence fee to pay for additional support to pay for its enforcement."
A copy of the report can be accessed here
- Published on Tuesday, 14 February 2012 15:41
The Office for National Statistics has announced that inflation has fallen by 1.7% from its peak at 5.6% in September 2011. This announcement adds to business organisations' case against planned 5.6% increase in business rates to come in this April. Commenting on the drop SGF Chief Executive, John Drummond, said:
“The Scottish Government’s commitment to hike up business rates by 5.6% in April was a missed opportunity to support struggling businesses the length and breadth of Scotland.
“The ONS figures now show how excessive the 5.6% hike is, a rise which has added more than £30m to the retail sector’s tax bill alone.”
“We welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to allow businesses to spread the 5.6% increase over three years but this sugar coating doesn’t disguise the fact that figures like today are a bitter pill to swallow.”
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