Scotch Whisky producers today called on the Chancellor not to introduce tax stamps on whisky bottles following the publication of a National Audit Office (NAO) report, which it said "raised serious question marks over the estimates of fraud".


The report said that that great care should be taken before placing reliance on the results presently available on the extent of tax fraud on spirits in the UK. 


Concluding that further work on the spirits fraud figures is necessary, the NAO said that calculating spirits fraud was highly uncertain and it was not reasonable to state a definitive figure.


Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of The Scotch Whisky Association, said: "The NAO says 'great care is needed in determining what reliance is to be placed' on the existing estimates.  We agree and, given the difficulty for government and industry of fixing a figure for fraud highlighted in today's report, it would be wrong to introduce tax stamps in the Budget on 17 March, ahead of further work being completed.


"Scotch Whisky producers and others have put forward a robust alternative anti-fraud package to defeat the fraudster, without the heavy compliance cost burden of tax stamps.  We urge the Chancellor to embrace these proposals on Budget Day."