NFRN reaction to Queen’s Speech
Action on shoplifting and red tape welcomed but NFRN disappointed as Queen’s Speech overlooks minimum alcohol pricing.
A new clampdown on shoplifters announced in the Queen’s Speech yesterday has been welcomed by the NFRN.
New laws to further cut red tape and reduce national insurance contributions have also been given the thumbs up and the NFRN is pleased to see that plans to put tobacco products in plain packaging were missing from today’s speech. However, the Federation has expressed disappointment at the omission of a minimum unit price for alcohol.
Through the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill, the government is promising to improve the speed and efficiency of the justice system’s response to low level offending, enabling the police to prosecute uncontested minor offences of shoplifting.
Commenting, NFRN National President Alan Smith said: “Shoplifting is a crime that dogs the lives of independent newsagents on a daily basis so we are pleased to see the government is planning to tackle this with the energy and priority it deserves.
“We are equally pleased to see that there will be a further reduction in regulation and that national insurance contributions are to be cut, as both moves are good news for small businesses.”
On the exclusion of plain packs for tobacco, he continued: “Time and again we have warned that there is no evidence to suggest that such a move would be effective. Instead we have warned that it would be little more than a gift to counterfeiters who will need no encouragement to further flood the market.
“With display bans already in place in the large retailers, and coming into effect in small stores in 2015, tobacco branding will be virtually invisible so we are delighted that David Cameron has seen sense and is not pressing ahead with proposals that are plain nonsense.”
However, Mr Smith said the NFRN was both concerned and disappointed that plans for a minimum unit price on alcohol appeared to have been dropped as they failed to appear in today’s speech.
Mr Smith said: “The NFRN has been calling for a minimum unit price for some time as we firmly believe this will have the potential to cut consumption among those who are risk from heavy drinking as well as stopping the young from binge drinking. Indeed research from Canada, where minimum pricing has been introduced, shows that alcohol consumption has fallen by 8 per cent.
“Not only will minimum pricing help tackle the crimes caused by those fuelled by alcohol, it will also help hard pressed independent retailers compete against the large multiple chains who have irresponsibly used loss leaders and multiple purchase offers on alcohol products to gain market share at the expense of smaller local shops.
“Given that the Prime Minister had personally backed the plan for a 45p minimum unit price, we are disappointed that it has failed to materialise and would urge David Cameron to think again.”