A ban on sales of alcohol ‘below cost’ in England and Wales is due to be introduced on 6 April 2012, Home Office minister James Brokenshire has confirmed. The announcement has fulled rumours that 6 April will also be the date for the introduction of provisions under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, which include granting more powers over licensing to communities and licensing authorities. The below-cost ban will be enforced as a mandatory licence condition. Jonathan Smith of specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen said: “The Government is still struggling with what the ‘below cost’ should be of alcohol. The current proposal is that it should be VAT together with excise duty, although the Government is currently looking into the possibility of including the cost of production, although how that can be defined is a lawyers’ dream.” Kate Nicholls, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers strategic affairs director, said the below-cost ban is a "good starting point" in addressing the issue of 'pocket money pricing' of alcohol. “However, the current definition will do nothing to affect the vast majority of pocket-money deals currently operating in the off-trade, where alcohol is often cheaper than water. “If the Government is serious about tackling this problem, it must look to extend its definition of below-cost. In addition, further controls should be placed on the way alcohol is sold in the off-trade. “The ALMR would like to see restrictions on bulk or wholesale volume purchases, a ban on irresponsible promotions and the use of price in advertising, and restrictions on where alcohol can be sold in-store.” M&C Report asked the Home Office for an implementation date for the licensing provisions under the Act, but has yet to receive a response. Smith added: “The best estimate for the introduction of early morning restriction orders and the late night levy is autumn/winter next year. However, it should be noted that the Government has not even started to consult on the regulations yet.”