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    Spring budget 2024: C-stores urge clarity, question duty on vape sales

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, leaves 11 Downing Street with his ministerial box before delivering his Budget in the Houses of Parliament on March 06, 2024 in London, England. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivers his 2024 Spring Budget to Parliament. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

    Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed measures announced in today’s Budget to encourage more people into working in careers like convenience by reducing the rate of National Insurance and increasing child benefit thresholds. However, the body has demanded clarity on issues like future path of the National Living Wage and various measures and taxation on vapes.

    Headline measures announced in the Budget include: 

    • Alcohol duties frozen until February 2025
    • Fuel duties (including the previously announced five per cent fuel duty cut) have been frozen until February 2025
    • The VAT registration threshold for businesses is to rise from £85,000 to £90,000
    • Full expensing for investment to apply to leased assets as well as owned assets
    • An increase in the child benefit threshold from £50,000 to £60,000

    ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “The National Insurance cut and increase in child benefit thresholds will help the 400,000+ people working in the convenience sector and encourage more people into work, relieving pressure on an incredibly tight labour market.

    “We heard nothing from the Chancellor today on the future path of the National Living Wage, which we urge clarity on as soon as possible to help convenience retailers prepare for expected rates in 2025 and beyond.”

    During the Budget, the Chancellor also announced the introduction of a new levy on vaping products in October 2026, alongside a one-off duty increase on tobacco products.

    The rates will, subject to consultation, be £1.00 per 10ml for nicotine free liquids, £2.00 per 10ml on liquids that contain 0.1-10.9 mg nicotine per ml, and £3.00 per 10ml on liquids that contain 11mg or more per ml. The government will also introduce a one-off tobacco duty increase of £2.00 per 100 cigarettes or 50 grams of tobacco from 1 October 2026. 

    On the vaping levy, Lowman said, “Retailers are trying to prepare for multiple changes to the regulation and taxation of the vaping category: a ban on disposables expected to come into effect in April 2025, a variety of as-yet undrafted regulations on the siting and marketing of products, and now the introduction of duty on vape sales from 2026.

    “We will work with the government to try and make these various measures coherent and effective, but retailers will be feeling confused about the purpose and implementation of these regulations. Responsible retailers will also be concerned at the advantage given to illicit importers and sellers of vapes who will not pay excise duty, over legitimate businesses who will apply this tax to the price of vapes.”

    The full Budget documents are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/spring-budget-2024

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