‘Disappointment’ for hospitality as Government set to scrap relaxed licensing rules

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

‘Disappointment’ for hospitality as Government set to scrap relaxed licensing rules

Related tags Licensing act Government License Coronavirus ukhospitality

The Government is to end the automatic, pandemic-era provision for hospitality venues to sell alcohol for off-site consumption, in a move that’s been described as ‘disappointing’ by the sector.

The decision, which will also halt the increased number of temporary event notices (TENs) permitted, follows a consultation on whether to make permanent the alcohol licensing provisions in the Business and Planning Act 2020 (BPA) or to return to the pre-Covid provisions in the Licensing Act 2003.

Trade body UKHospitality (UKH), which had been a strong proponent of both measures being made permanent, voiced its dismay over the decision.

“There’s no doubt that this is disappointing news for hospitality businesses,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKH.

“The temporary measures introduced during the pandemic were practical and enabled businesses to generate additional sales.

“This decision will raise questions among hospitality businesses about how serious the Government is about reducing red tape for businesses, particularly when this would have been a low-cost, high-reward change.

“I would continue to urge the Government to consider measures like these as prime targets for change, as part of its focus on deregulation. UKHospitality and its members are keen to work together with Government departments to identify areas that can be improved or changed, to reduce the regulatory burden and boost the economy.”

The Government consultation received a total of 174 responses from licensing authorities, trade organisations and residents’ organisations, as well as members of the public.

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.

As a result, the automatic provision for venues to sell alcohol for off-site consumption will expire on 30 September, with the measure to increase the number of TENs expiring on 31 December.

The Licensing Act will revert to the pre-Covid position when the BPA measures expire.

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