What does 2017 hold in store for the licensed trade?
As I raised a glass when the chimes hit midnight on New Year’s Eve, I began to reflect on what a year we were leaving behind. We had Brexit; Trump elected to be President; the men’s England football abysmal Euro campaign, and I think we all know which one of those we could have predicted. At that point I decided to think of what this year would have in-stall for the licensed trade.
Lords Committee on the Licensing Act 2003
The House of Lords Licensing Act 2003 Select Committee called for evidence from stakeholders ranging from live music industry experts to Home Office officials, trade bodies, public health experts, Licensing Officers, on and off trade representatives and the legal profession.
The committee has been considering the impact that alcohol has had on the health on the population; the existing and proposed licensing objectives; and the balance between rights and responsibilities of both the industry and the public. The Committee has to report their findings by 23 March 2017.
Scottish Minimum Unit Pricing to UK Supreme Court
We are not likely to see a final ruling on the minimum pricing debate until well into 2017, with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) having applied to judges in Scotland for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The policy, approved in 2012, has now been through the Scottish courts twice, with the drinks industry losing each time. It was even referred to the European Court of Justice in 2015. The Supreme Court is the last option for the SWA to appeal the decision.
The Government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) issued at the end of 2016 a new draft rateable value for non-domestic properties (business properties) seven years since the last valuation was updated. Final confirmed rates taking account of transitional relief and supplements will not be available until April 2017.
Rateable values are used to calculate your business rates. The value also determines certain fees payable under the Licensing Act 2003, such as premises licence annual fees, application fees and payments due under the Late Night Levy (if applicable to your licence). Any change could therefore have significant impact upon the licensed trade.
Maximum Gaming Machine Stake and Prize Limits to be Reviewed
In the gambling world, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are to review gaming machines and social responsibility requirements across the gambling industry following a call for evidence that was released at the end of last year.
In particular for pubs, bars and restaurants, DCMS are to review the number and location of permitted gaming machines across all licensed premises. It will consider the proposals based on the evidence received and report their findings later this year.