It appears to me that the problems some in our industry have are not solely related to cashless trading – the bigger and more understandable issue appears to be the interpretation of the itinerant trader exemption and the fear of the impact they may have on our businesses.
It is critical that merchants understand this exemption.
Our interpretation, based upon advice from key authorities, is that itinerant traders can be split into three categories:
- Itinerant trader, registered with their local authority, able to collect materials from ‘house to house’ are not allowed to pay cash. Note the wording in the 1964 Act is ‘House to House’ and our interpretation is that this should exclude business – it is important to note however that this interpretation has not been tested in a court of law.
- Itinerant trader, registered with their local authority, has applied for and received (after a police check) an S3(1) exemption – able to collect materials from house to house – are allowed to pay cash and keep limited records – your local authority has the power to revoke this exemption.
- Others, not registered at all, work outside of the law and would continue to pay cash anyway – these individuals will continue to do what they want regardless of any legislative change and are being actively targeted by the authorities.
I have spoken at depth and frequently with a few different local authorities to understand the changing picture of applications for itinerant trader status. The general consensus is that applications for option a) have increased greatly (often driven by merchants themselves telling mobile collectors that they must register with their local authority otherwise the merchant will not deal with them), more importantly option b) has not had any applications in the local authorities that I have spoken with and indeed there are very few genuine Itinerant Traders with an S3(1) exemption around the country.
There are a number of payment options open to merchants whether they are BMRA members or not; now is the time to focus on finding the solution that works for your organisation, ensuring that any illicit activity from itinerant traders or others is reported promptly to the relevant authorities.
Nicola Guest, director at Alchemy Metals