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Consultation outcome published: Licensing Act 2003: regulatory easements consultation responses (updated 14th August) Published Date: 20/07/2023

Between 6 March and 1 May 2023, the government ran a consultation on whether to make permanent the alcohol licensing provisions in the Business and Planning Act 2020 (BPA) or whether to return to the pre-covid provisions in the Licensing Act 2003.

A total of 174 complete responses were received. Responses were received from licensing authorities, trade organisations and residents’ organisations, as well as members of the public.

Summary of responses and next steps

UPDATE 14TH AUGUST: The position (as set out below) looks set to change as it has been widely reported that the provisions will now be extended and the website has been updated to remove the detail previously shown under 'next steps'.

The next steps section was originally as summarised below:

For off-sales, the consultation showed 65% of respondents favour a return to the pre-covid provisions of the Licensing Act. For temporary events notices, 63% of respondents opposed making permanent the increased allocation. Take up of TENs has been low: statistics which the Home Office published in October 2022 show that as of 31 March 2022, there was a 33% decrease in TENs used compared with the year ending 31 March 2018.

The Government will not be bringing an order to extend the provisions as the BPA only allows for an extension to mitigate an effect of the pandemic. The BPA measures expire on 30 September (off-sales) and 31 December (TENs). The Licensing Act will revert to the pre-covid position when the BPA measures expire.

It is possible to provide off-sales services within the pre-covid provisions of the Licensing Act by means of a variation to a premises licence. The Government will take forward points suggested in the consultation about what adjustments can be made to the licence variation process, to minimise any transition costs for affected licence holders. The Government will amend the guidance made under Section 182 of the Licensing Act to advise Licensing Authorities initially to treat applications for amendments as a minor variation to the licence. This process is quicker and cheaper than major licence variations and does not require a local newspaper advert. Any new applicant has the option to request on and off-sales, at no additional cost.

Concerning whether to deem the area covered by a pavement licence as part of the premises plan, respondents highlighted unintended adverse consequences. The government believes that the unified pavement licence should include licensing consent for the consumption and sale of alcohol in the outside pavement area. This will reduce the administrative burden of cafes, pubs and restaurants having to apply for multiple consents from their council. Local residents and responsible authorities would still be able to make representations on the merits of such a licence, and the terminal hours may differ outside from those inside. Subject to further technical consultation, the Government intend to legislate for this when Parliamentary time allows.

More information (including survey results)