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Licensing news England and Wales - March 2017

TLT's monthly newsletter covering up to date stories of interest to premises licence operators and professionals involved in alcohol, entertainment, late night refreshment and gambling.

This month in summary 

Gambling news

Other news

Licensing news

Hackney Late Night Levy consultation announced

Hackney Borough Council have begun consulting on the introduction of a Late Night Levy affecting all premises that sell alcohol between midnight and 6am in the borough. The proposal does not contain any exemptions, although there is a proposal to wind up the voluntary payment scheme some premises in the borough pay into for funding night time economy initiatives.

The consultation is open until 7 May 2017 and the full questionnaire can be found here.

Hackney is seeking to join other London Boroughs introducing the Late Night Levy including Islington, City of London, Camden and Tower Hamlets. 

House of Lords due to announce its Licensing Act review findings

The much-anticipated publication of the House of Lords Select Committee report reviewing the Licensing Act 2003 is due to be released at the end of March. 

The consultation process, which began with an invitation to make written submissions followed the establishment of the committee in May 2016 finally closed its doors to evidence in December. 

In that time, oral evidence was heard from a wide array of different groups and individuals involved or interested in alcohol and entertainment licensing, as well as late night refreshment, including pressure groups, judges, resident associations and, of course, industry experts and operators. 

Within the evidence provided were a range of radical suggestions that proposed everything from dramatically restricting sales of alcohol, through to further liberalisation and changes to the licensing objectives. What line the Lords take is open to debate.

Obviously Brexit is taking up a significant amount of parliamentary time and therefore whether the report leads to any swift action from the House of Commons is an entirely different question. However, at the very least the Lord's report will provide a full report on the state of licensing in England and Wales and probably where the next battle-lines are likely to be drawn. 

We will give full details once the report is released. 

Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme comes into full force

1 April sees the introduction of stage 2 of the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS). HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) introduced the scheme to tackle alcohol fraud and the majority of wholesalers of alcohol have had to register with the scheme for some time. 

From 1 April, however, if you buy alcohol to sell from a UK wholesaler, you’ll need to check that the wholesaler has registered with HMRC and has an AWRS Unique Reference Number (URN).

If you are a trade buyer or wholesaler, you will be able to use an online look-up service of approved wholesalers to check that the wholesalers you buy from are registered. Once the scheme comes into full effect, it is an offence to knowingly buy alcohol wholesale from a person who should be approved. Penalties can include a fine, imprisonment of up to seven years or both.
For further information go to gov.uk 

Gambling News

UK Government propose to reform the Horserace Betting Levy Regulations 

The Horserace Betting Levy is applicable to operators who offer bets on horseracing in Great Britain.  The basis on which the levy is calculated is to be changed to a fixed rate.  The Regulations being put to parliament set that rate at 10% of the amount an operator’s profits on bets that relate to horseracing in Great Britain exceeding £500,000. The Regulations make provision for the fixed rate to be reviewed within seven years and they also make changes to the powers of the Horserace Betting Levy Board to allow it to properly administer the new levy scheme.  The changes will come into effect on 1 April 2017.

Out and About

The team was as busy as usual, out and about in February. Hearings and meetings in various parts of London, Portsmouth, Cardiff, Bracknell, High Wycombe, included licensing for major new hotels and appearing before committees at a Summary Review hearing. Added to that we also lectured for the Emergency Planning College to a group of fire brigade officers on aspects of licensing and managing major events, ensuring that when the festival season kicks off, it can do so safely!

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at March 2017. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions

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