Government scraps planned changes to personal licences

By James Wallin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Personal licences, License, Government

Home Office minister Norman Baker has said personal licences will not be scrapped
Home Office minister Norman Baker has said personal licences will not be scrapped
The Government has announced it will not go ahead with controversial plans to scrap personal licences.

The Home Office had proposed changing the system to provide personal licences through locally applied conditions to premises licences. The justification given was that the current procedure was not a “targeted and proportionate way to ensure alcohol is sold responsibly”. It was claimed it could save businesses £10m a year.

But the plans sparked howls of protest from the industry with accusations it would be a “retrograde step”.

This morning Home Office minster Norman Baker announced the Government had decided not to go ahead with the changes.

Little backing

He said: “It was clear from the responses we received (to the consultation) that there was little backing for the proposal and nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents did not think it would save time or money.

“Having carefully considered the range of views - including from the police, licensing authorities and the owners and managers of pubs, restaurants and shops - we have decided to keep personal licences.

“I am grateful to all of you who took part and I hope you will continue to make your voices heard in any future consultations.”

Licensing lawyer Jonathan Smith, from Poppleston Allen, welcomed the news.

He said: "There was pretty much universal opposition to this within the industry and I would imagine this news will be very well received. I think this will be the end of the matter because the Government have seen just how strongly people opposed this."

Good news

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “It is very good news the Government has listened to the industry, as the whole trade was united in opposition. 

“Personal licences work well, setting a national standard which is supported by both local authorities and the police. They are important for the reputation of the industry, and are needed, as a nationally recognised qualification.

“The Government’s intentions on deregulation are still very welcome; we will always be keen to work with them on the many other areas where action to reduce red tape is needed.”

Wine and Spirits Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale said he is also pleased the Government has listened to the concerns of the industry.

"While we are fully supportive of the Government’s commitment to reducing regulatory burden on business, allowing local authorities the powers to develop their own personal licensing system risked imposing unnecessary burdens on the trade and creating disparities between local authorities," he said.

"When it comes to the responsible sale of alcohol our members are fully supportive of measures to help raise the general standard of training and will often go much further to ensure they are operating the highest standards with regards to the retail of alcohol.”

Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said while she is pleased the Government has "seen sense" and decided to retain the personal licence system, she is disappointed it has committed only to "an on-going, open dialogue" in regards to deregulatory measures to remove unnecessary red tape burdens.

The Government's response can be viewed in full here​.

Related topics: Licensing law

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