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Government consultation on alcohol strategy

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The Government has published a consultation on its alcohol strategy. The headline proposal which has been well publicised is the proposed introduction of a recommended minimum unit price for alcohol of 45 pence. There are however a number of other measures proposed.

A ban on multi-buy promotions in the off-trade is being considered. A multi-buy promotion would include such offers as 2 for the price of 1, 3 for the price of 2, buy 1 get 1 free, buy 6 get 20% off.

A review of the mandatory licensing conditions to ensure they are sufficiently targeting problems such as irresponsible promotions in pubs and clubs to ensure the conditions are appropriate and apply to both on and off trade. A reminder the five mandatory licensing conditions currently set out in relation to the supply of alcohol are:

  • A ban on irresponsible promotions.
  • A ban on dispensing alcohol by one person directly into the mouth of another.
  • A requirement to provide free tap water on request to customers.
  • A requirement to have an age verification policy to prevent a sale of alcohol to persons under the age of eighteen years of age.
  • A requirement to make available to customers small measures such as half pints of beer, cider or 125 ml glasses of wine.

The inclusion of health as a licensing objective in cumulative impact policy areas is being considered to ensure that Licensing Authorities are able to take alcohol-related health harms into consideration when making the decision about cumulative impact policies. Local Licensing Authorities will be able to take evidence of alcohol-related health harm into account when deciding whether to introduce a CIP and the extent of that CIP. This will be a discretionary power.

The Government believes that there is scope to develop options to reduce some licensing burdens on what they term “ancillary sellers” i.e. businesses for whom the sale of alcohol is only a small part of or incidental to their wider activities.
The Government has already relaxed the rules in relation to temporary event notices (TENS) earlier this year. The Government is now considering the proposal to increase the number of TENS from the current twelve per year to either fifteen or eighteen in respect of individual premises.

Late night refreshment is currently a licensable activity after 23.00. This requires those selling hot food and drink to be licensed after that time. The Government is consulting on two proposals which include giving Local Authorities a discretion to exempt certain premises and/or a proposal to add some centrally prescribed exemptions from the requirement to have a late night refreshment Licence to premises which may only have a limited offering for example through a hot drink vending machine and to motorway service areas.

The requirement that Licensees applying for a new Premises Licence or for a major variation must advertise their applications in a local newspaper is now considered redundant due to the changing way in which people consume news locally. This is a considerable cost to business as an advertisement rarely costs less than £200.00. The Government is proposing to scrap this requirement.

In 2015 the first of the Personal Licences granted under the Licensing Act 2003 will expire at the end of their ten-year duration. The Government is consulting on whether or not to lift the requirement for renewal after ten years. There will be a continuing onus on Personal Licence Holders to ensure their Licences are up to date in terms of personal details and photograph and to declare convictions however if the Government were to remove this requirement it would certainly remove what is likely is become a not insignificant headache for the industry from 2015 onwards.

The consultation runs until the 6 February 2013.

You can find further information about the consultation at www.homeoffice.gov.uk and you can respond to the consultation at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us-consultations Alternatively you can write to Alcohol Consultation, Drug and Alcohol Unit, Home Office, Fourth Floor, Friar Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF.

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