It points out that while 70% of NOffLA members favour tougher alcohol retailing laws, any further excise increase will lead to job losses and reduced salaries for workers all over the country.
And it has released figures to the Department of Finance showing that a reduction in tax on alcohol by as little as 10c on spirits/beer/cider and 50c on a bottle of wine in Budget 2017 would lead to 54% of businesses taking on more staff and 62% increasing staff pay.
As part of its submission NOffLA also released the results of its 2016 members survey showing that 55% of off-licences across Ireland will struggle to remain open if the current level of excise is increased in Budget 2017, jeopardising thousands of jobs.
If, however, the current level of excise is reduced, 81% of respondents would re-invest in their business by increasing product quality and range.
The 2016 NOffLA Members Survey also found:
- 41% of those surveyed reported a decline in turnover in 2015
- 73% reported reduced sales volumes since 2012 with 45% citing excise increases and 33% citing a lack of legislation as the primary factor
- If excise is increased again in Budget 2017, 54% would struggle to remain open and 55% would reduce staff while 38% would be forced to reduce staff salaries
- In addition to the reduced cashflow due to excise increases, 45% have had their bank facilities reduced, 52% have been impacted by minimum wage increases leading to 66% of respondents experiencing credit difficulties.
Since 2008, the independent off-licence industry has lost 3,000 jobs and NOffLA is calling on the Government to protect the remaining 5,900.
In its submission NOffLA has called on the Government to:
- Reverse the Budget 2014 excise increases on alcohol as Ireland has the highest excise on wine in the EU and the third-highest tax on beer and spirits. As a result of these taxes, Ireland is only behind Finland, Sweden and the UK in having the highest taxes on alcohol in the EU
- Restore parity to wine taxation in relation to domestic alcohol asthe excise on a bottle of wine is, on average, 35% higher than the equivalent excise on cider and beer
- Reintroduce a ban on the below-cost selling of alcohol. The prohibition on the retailing of alcohol at below invoice cost-price will ensure that retailers cannot reclaim 23% of the loss in their VAT return, saving the State an average of €24 million each year as well as ensuring alcohol is retailed in a responsible manner
- Establish tighter control on out-of-state imports in terms of VAT and excise collection thus ensuring out-of-state and online retailers cannot sell directly to Irish consumers without paying the required tax and VAT. Such controls will ensure online retailers are fit for purpose; tax compliant and meet the same licencing obligations as domestic retailers.
“NOffLA members are significant local employers based in communities all around the country and as such we’ve a clear view of the economic reality for Irish SMEs,” commented Evelyn Jones, Government Affairs Director with NOffLA, “While the economy is improving generally, as with previous years our Members Survey has shown that the recovery is not being felt by all.
“We’re calling on the new Government to take positive and decisive action that will safeguard jobs, encourage local investment and ultimately contribute to the development of local communities. A reversal of the punitive Budget 2014 excise increase on alcohol combined with a reduction of the tax on wine, which is significantly higher than that of cider and beer, would facilitate business and indeed consumer choice.
“We’re also calling on the Government to enact the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill in its entirety and as such reintroduce the ban on below-cost selling of alcohol which costs the taxpayer €24 million annually. Finally, we believe tighter controls on out-of-state online retailers should be introduced to promote higher levels of responsible retailing thus protecting the general public, alcohol consumers and retailers.”
And she reiterated, “Budgetary hikes on excise made during the financial crisis have pushed many off-licences to the brink of commercial failure. Retailers and suppliers have to raise and pay an extra €17,958 per 1,000 cases of wine in excise and VAT due to increases in Budget 2013 and 2014”.