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Government consultation on alcohol strategy

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19 July 2013: Government’s response to the consultation on its alcohol strategy

The Government has announced the following as a result of the consultation on its alcohol strategy.

  • It will not be introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol.
  • It will not be introducing a ban on multi-buy promotions.
  • It will be introducing a ban on the sale of alcohol in England and Wales at a price below the level of alcohol duty for a product plus value-added tax to come into force no later than Spring 2014.
  • It will be reviewing the mandatory licensing conditions and specifically will be looking to tighten up those conditions relating to irresponsible drinks promotions and age verification.  There will be a requirement for on trade premises to list the price of small measures on menus or price lists with a requirement that if a customer does not specify a measure they will have to make customers explicitly aware that those are available.
  • They will encourage the formation of local alcohol action areas which will have the aim of reducing alcohol-related crime and disorder, reduce alcohol-related health harms and promote the growth of an established diverse and vibrant night time economy.
  • Increase the annual limit for the number of temporary event notices from 12 to 15.
  • Give Licensing Authorities the power to make local exemptions from the requirement to have late night refreshment as a licensable activity (the provision of hot food and drink between the hours of 23.00 and 05.00).
  • Importantly, from an operational point of view, abolish the requirement for the renewal of Personal Licences after ten years.  The first renewals would have been due in 2015.
  • Consult on a proposal to abolish the Personal Licence system altogether
  • Remove the requirement to report the loss or theft of Licences issued to the Police and receive a crime number
  • Introduce a new light touch authorisation to sell alcohol for ancillary sellers and community groups
  • Retain the requirement for licensing applications to be published in local newspapers
  • Review the sale of alcohol at motorway service areas

For further information, please contact Andrew Cochrane.

21 December 2012: Government consultation on alcohol strategy published

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 two for the price of one, three for the price of two, buy one get one free, buy six 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 18years 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 06 February 2013.

You can find further information about the consultation and respond to it on the Home Office website. 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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