A group of over 160 scrap metal dealers has written a letter to ministers at both the Treasury and Home Office calling on them to delay the introduction of cashless payments.
After consulting with a QC, a letter was written on behalf of the group calling for a response within seven days or face immediate action in the Administrative Court.
The letter states that as a matter of extreme urgency, ministers should reconsider the timetable for the introduction of a criminal offence that is “unclear in its scope, has not been the subject of proper consultation and unfairly discriminates between undertakings that are in competition with one another and all of whom fall potentially within the scope of the policy concerns that have given rise to this legislation.”
It notes that the approach currently being adopted “poses a serious risk to the commercial viability of a large number of long-established and legitimate small and medium-sized businesses” as well as stating that many businesses that are not members of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) have not been consulted about the change or notified of the “entry into force of this criminal statute and are not in a position to undertake such a fundamental change in their commercial operation at such short notice”.
The letter also makes it clear that the group believes no proper guidance or explanation has been forthcoming as to how small and medium-sized businesses can move over to a cashless system with just a few weeks warning.
It also says there has been unfair discrimination against licensed scrap dealers by allowing itinerant collectors and motor salvage operators to be exempt from cashless payments.
The letter also suggests that scrap metal recyclers in the north of England in particular may lose business as the regulations will not apply in either Scotland or Northern Ireland.
As a result of this, the consortium would like to see a postponement of the measure in line with the introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill that is currently with the House of Lords to allow proper consultation to take place.
One Stop Recycling director Amy Bird, who has coordinated the response of the group of scrap metal recyclers, said: “We sent a letter in on Friday via our solicitor to the Home Office and the Treasury and in particular to the Minister for Justice.
“We gave them seven days for a response so are hoping to hear back this Friday.
“Over 160 companies have given backing to this and more are coming in thick and fast. This includes large and small companies and some of these are also BMRA members.
“We need metal theft to be tackled and we are not against the law as such. But we need more time and clarity and want the cash ban to be brought in with the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill going through Parliament at the moment.”