A consultation, launched today, will seek views on a proposal to simplify the way in which licence holders can make small changes to their licence, such as changing a shop lay-out.
Currently the industry is paying between £2.3 and £4.3 million a year to apply to vary licences, but by changing part of the licensing act, the government estimates it could save businesses up to £2.8 million a year.
Licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: “After two years it has become evident that it is not necessary for a premise to go through the full variation process if they are only making a small change, such as minor refurbishment.
“Local councils who are familiar with local licensed premises should have the discretion to decide when a variation is so insignificant that it’s not necessary to go through the full variation process.”
The government has come up with three options for the public to back: Allow councils to decide if a change is insignificant enough to qualify as minor, detail what is classed as a minor variation in the act itself, or simply do nothing. They have until February 2008 to give their views.