The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has labelled the move as “common-sense prevailing” after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak chose to eliminates the need for a separate application process to allow pubs to sell takeaway pints and other forms of alcoholic beverages in the form of off-sales.
The ruling that allowed automatic provision for pubs and bars to sell alcohol for off-site consumption to finish at the end of September 2023 was made in July after the measures were implemented post-covid to help recovery of the sector.
The legislation being considered was about whether to make permanent the alcohol licensing provisions in the Business and Planning Act 2020 or to return to the pre-Covid provisions in the Licensing Act 2003.
NTIA chief executive Michael Kill commended the Prime Minister’s decision as “a display of common sense prevailing”.
He added this decision will “maintain continuity in trading for businesses that have relied on off-sales for the past three years, a provision initially implemented in July 2020”.
Acknowledging the unprecedented challenges faced by the night-time economy and hospitality industry, Kill said this decision will provide essential relief to pubs and their business operations and added how significant the sector’s contribution is to both the economy and the social fabric of local communities.
The NTIA CEO said the move will alleviate some of the pressures faced by pub owners who depend on this provision but also urged the Government to maintain a similar approach in addressing ongoing challenges faced by the sector, once again allowing it to actively contribute to the broader UK recovery efforts.
He said: “The NTIA remains committed to advocating for the interests of the night-time economy and hospitality industry and anticipates continued collaboration with the Government to address sector-specific challenges.”
Not the time for red tape
Meanwhile, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is a very welcome intervention by the Prime Minister in response to representations from UKHospitality and the sector more widely.
“Many businesses benefited for the first time from pavement licences and created new outdoor areas but, for some, the use of them was only allowed by a corresponding temporary permission for takeaway sales or alfresco dining.
“The Government was originally proposing to extend the former but not the latter and this would have tied up many more restaurants, bars and pubs in red tape; requiring an application for some to continue using their outside spaces.
“This is a welcome dose of common sense. As the Prime Minister rightly says, now is not the time to tie these businesses up in additional bureaucracy and cost just as they continue their recovery from the pandemic. We very much appreciate his personal intervention and ongoing support.”
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chief executive Tom Stainer added: “It’s a good sign the Government has listened and decided to backtrack on their plans to end the automatic permission for pubs to make off-sales.
“We hope they have also been listening very carefully to the trade and consumers, who are also calling for a relaxation of the new tax rules around draught takeaway sales, which restrict many publicans from selling takeaway beer and cider regardless of whether their license allows them to do so.
“This is because the new rules force them to buy separate containers of draught beers and ciders, with a higher rate of duty paid on them if they want to sell them for takeaway. We are hopeful that the Government will remove these unnecessary restrictions soon.”