Government to clarify licensing over three years

12 January, 2007

The cost and complexity of the licensing regime will be tackled by government over the next three years.

Problem areas, including applications, fees and licence variations, will be tackled under the Department for Culture, Media & Sport's simplification plan.

Small businesses selling "very small quantities of alcohol" could be exempted from licensing requirements altogether, while the role of designated premises supervisors in authorising sales will be clarified.

The proposals will be implemented over the next three years after consultations between ministers and industry bodies.

Changes to the Licensing Act will be made using secondary legislation and Regulatory Reform Orders.

Association of Convenience Stores spokesman Shane Brennan said: "The burdens of the Licensing Act fell on retailers last year and the year before. These are positive changes, but it is a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

"The concerning thing is the long implementation timetable."

Licensing lawyer Graeme Cushion, of Poppleston Allen solicitors, said: "The plan in general is a good one. It's good to see the DCMS is looking at the first year of the new regime and seeing what administrative improvements can be made. The only disappointing thing is that they're going to take a while to come into effect."

Changes in brief

1 Application forms Simplify and reduce application forms, introduce internet "e-forms".

DUE: 2007/8

2 Premises plans Clarify requirement to submit plans with licence applications.

DUE: 2007/8

3 Fees Single licence renewal payment date. Clarification of fee levels, exemptions and what fees cover.

DUE: 2007/8

4 Advertising licence applications

Alternatives to newspaper advertising requirement, such as leaflet drops, to be considered.

DUE: 2007/8

5 Minor variations to licences

Streamlined, low-cost route for minor variations to licences that do not impact on licensing objectives.

DUE: 2008/9

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