Clause 61 - Mergers: general provisions

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:30 pm ar 16 Mai 2023.

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Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies The Exchequer Secretary 3:30, 16 Mai 2023

Clauses 61 to 71 provide for transitional arrangements for small businesses that merge under the new small producer relief and provide definitions for terms used in the chapter.

The Government are committed to modernising and reforming alcohol duty. Part of the reform package is a new small producer relief for businesses that make alcoholic drinks of a strength less than 8.5% alcohol by volume. That will extend the benefit of progressive duty rates enjoyed by small brewers to the producers of other alcohol products. The provisions on mergers and acquisitions mean that small businesses that merge will not face a cliff-edge duty increase in the first year of the merger; instead, their duty rates will increase gradually over a three-year period. The clauses also include some general provisions around definitions for the purposes of the relief.

Clause 61 introduces the concept of a post-merger group, which is a company formed from the merging of two or more companies, and explains how each of the three years in the transitional period will be referred to. Clause 62 sets out the conditions which must be met for a newly merged business to qualify for the relief. Clause 63 explains what is meant by the “relevant production amount” during the transition period. Clause 64 explains what is meant by “post-merger amount”, which determines the level of relief available to newly merged businesses.

Clause 65 provides for termination of a transition period where the amount of alcohol produced by a post-merger group decreases. Clause 66 explains the treatment when another merger takes place during an ongoing transition period. Clause 67 explains the treatment of mergers involving more than two small producers at the same time. Clause 68 provides that that the transition period ends when businesses demerge. Clause 69 gives definitions of “production premises”, “production groups” and “connected premises” for the purposes of small producer relief. Clause 70 explains that the definition of “connected persons” for the purposes of the relief mirrors that in the Corporation Tax Act 2010. Clause 71 provides a table of expressions used throughout the small producer relief chapter.

Around 10,000 businesses in the UK produce alcohol, import alcohol or supply it wholesale. The clauses will help small businesses compete with larger businesses, such as multinationals, and support them as they grow. The entire alcohol reform package will cost £155 million in 2022-23 and £880 million across the scorecard period. These clauses and accompanying schedule form a key part of the Government’s ambitious alcohol duty reform and will support small alcohol producers to grow and thrive.