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Local Government Association Calls for Licensing Reforms

February 5, 2014

pintLicensing laws have evolved in a piecemeal manner over many years, placing unnecessary burdens on councils and businesses according to a new report issued by the Local Government Association (LGA).

Open for Business: Rewiring Licensing is part of the LGA’s Rewiring Public Services series. The report calls for a full reform of the current licensing framework to deliver a deregulatory approach that frees up business and council time while maintaining safeguards for local communities.

A survey of 15 councils by the LGA revealed that the costs of the current system were in the region of £40,000 – £50,000 per annum, with one local authority reporting a £2million deficit, leading to a recommendation for localised fees to allow full costs to be recovered.

Among other suggestions contained in the report is the inclusion of health in a national set of licensing objectives. Excessive alcohol consumption costs the NHS £3.2 billion a year, but health bodies and councils are currently unable to oppose or modify applications on health grounds.

The recommendations have received a lukewarm reception from parts of the licensing trade, with British Beer and Pub Association Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds calling for a “period of stability” after so many changes to the licensing regime in recent years.

The full report is available here.