Seven leading hospitality and leisure industry organisations have called on the government to “rebalance” the tax and regulatory system in a bid to tackle alcohol misuse, anti-social behaviour and to create a level playing field with supermarkets. A total of 70% of all alcohol sales now take place in supermarkets — up from 53% ten years ago — which the group said means more alcohol is now increasingly being drunk in an unsupervised environment. The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), British Hospitality Association (BHA), Noctis, BII, Federation of Licensed Victuallers Association (FLVA), Business in Sport and Leisure (BISL) and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) have made the plea in a joint submission ahead of the new government forming its alcohol policy. They advocate a ban on below-cost selling – which they claimed shoul reflect the real cost to the retailer, not just be a ban on below tax sales – and also call for a rebalancing of the alcohol tax system to encourage the choice of lower strength drinks like beer. They has also called for: · A level playing field in the regulations covering alcohol sales in leisure and hospitality businesses and shops and supermarkets – either through a voluntary code, as in Ireland, or through mandatory conditions on the sale and promotion of alcohol · A review of the Licensing Act to ensure powers to revoke and refuse licenses are used effectively · An examination of the benefits of a different VAT rate for leisure businesses and supermarkets to boost business and jobs · A rebalancing of the alcohol tax system to encourage the choice of lower strength drinks like beer · Greater levels of individual accountability for anti-social behaviour · Better incentives for positive choices by business and individuals to improve trading practices, local involvement and individual behaviour. In a speech to to the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum, Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA said: “The government is right to be reviewing the rules and regulations surrounding the way we sell and drink alcohol and the benefits and costs to society and our communities. Fundamental to that review has to be the recognition that 70 per cent of alcohol is now sold through supermarkets. This change is driving trends like pre-loading and drinking outside of the social controls of well-managed leisure places like pubs. We need to rebalance our system to ensure everyone who sells alcohol is equally responsible and that greater emphasis is placed on the accountability of individuals for the choices they make about their drinking behaviours. “We also welcome the government’s review of alcohol taxation. The existing tax regime unfairly punishes pubs and responsible drinking. A new tax system that recognises beer as a low-strength, British-produced drink – and the mainstay of Britain’s pubs - would be a major step forward.” In a statement, Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers said: “The net effect of recent legislation has been to incentivise consumption at home and other unregulated places. If the problem is alcohol misuse then a big part of the solution is the re-regulation of the off-trade and supermarkets and then support for pubs and bars who really do understand about responsible alcohol retailing.” Paul Smith, chief executive of Noctis said: "Of particular interest for the Noctis membership is the late night levy for additional policing. We believe wholeheartedly that a more holistic approach needs to be employed on this issue and are pleased to have reached agreement with the other trade bodies on this and many other key issues."