More Customs staff tackle tobacco smuggling

11 June, 2009

The government spent £96.5 million on staff costs last year in its fight against tobacco smuggling, it has been revealed.

In 2008-09 there were 2,150 Revenue & Customs staff assigned to tobacco smuggling prevention, a small increase on the previous three years.

Exchequer Secretary Kitty Ussher said the bulk of the jobs were involved in detection work, with 395 in investigation and 255 in intelligence.

“The figures given are HMRC’s best estimate of the way resources were used, bearing in mind that the work of staff employed on anti-fraud and smuggling activity often covers a number of different taxes and commodities,” she said in response to a Parliamentary question from Labour MP David Taylor.

Ussher added that five new X-ray scanners had recently bought by HMRC, at a cost of £842,000 apiece.

The media budget for anti-smuggling campaigns fell from £556,000 in 2005-06 to £55,000 in 2007-08.

The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association believes the Exchequer loses between £1.7 billion and £3.1 billion a year as a result of tobacco smuggling, based on the latest HMRC data.

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