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6th November 2013

Trade unites in call for a rethink on proposals to abolish personal licences


Industry groups, including the British Beer & Pub Association, BII and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, have called upon the Government to retain personal licences in a joint letter to Norman Baker MP, the Minister responsible for licensing. 




Government proposals to replace the current national system with the option for local authorities to impose training conditions on individual licences will lead to inconsistency, with companies working across different local authorities challenged to keep track of where training conditions apply. There is also the risk of increased reviews of licences to impose training conditions, which will lead to extra costs to businesses.




In the letter, signed by a range of trade associations across leisure, hospitality and tourism, the group supports the coherence and qualification-based system behind personal licences, alongside the practical benefits of the criminal check system. The status of the personal licence holder in terms of both position and recognition of personal investment in training is also highlighted, with the group warning against the ‘gold-plating’ of the designated premises supervisor.




Tim Hulme, Chief Executive of the BII, said:




“Whilst the BII welcome attempts to reduce red-tape, the proposals in the consultation further undermine the professionalism of our industry at a time when we firmly believe society should be demanding us to promote even higher standards and to plot a pathway to better compliance and greater standards of regulation.”




Brigid Simmonds OBE, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, comments:




“Government intentions to deregulate are very much welcomed. However, the potential for increased regulation at a local level removes any gains.




“Personal licences work well, set a national standard which is supported by local authorities and the police and have many benefits for the industry. There are many other reductions in red tape which industry have proposed, but not this one. Personal Licences are important for the reputation of the industry and should stay as a nationally recognised qualification.”




Kate Nicholls, Strategic Affairs Director of the ALMR, comments:




“The system of personal licences underpins professional qualifications and investment in training in the sector, with the majority of companies having multiple personal licence holders on site to ensure a single qualified point of authority across all shifts.




“Removing it would be a retrograde step and a recipe for additional red tape and bureaucracy at a local level as councils set their own requirements for training for different types of business.”








For further information please contact:






Neil Williams, Head of Media: 020 7627 9156/07974 249 779


Gareth Barrett, Public Affairs Manager: 020 7627 9154


Sophie McIntyre, Communications & Campaigns Officer: 020 7627 9155






Kate Nicholls, Strategic Affairs Director: 020 8579 2080/07958 796 238






Notes to editors:


The ALMR is the only national trade body dedicated to representing the interests of licensed hospitality operators – pub, club, bar and casual dining retailers and our member run 13,500 outlets employing over 350,000 people.




The BII is the professional body for the licensed retail sector with charitable status and a remit to raise professional standards.




The British Beer & Pub Association is the UK’s leading organisation representing the brewing and pub sector.  Its members account for 96 per cent of the beer brewed in the UK and around half of Britain’s 49,500 pubs.




The consultation closes on 7 November 2013. The full proposals and how to respond can be found here.




Letter to the Minister on Personal Licences




Norman Baker MP


Minister of State for Crime Prevention


Home Office


2 Marsham Street










Dear Minister,




Personal Alcohol Licences, Enabling Targeted Local Alternatives




The signatories: the undersigned comprise all the major licensed retail and hospitality sector trade and professional bodies. Between us we represent all major supermarket, pub and night club chains, as well as 200,000 independent hospitality businesses and retailers. We are writing in response to the Government’s consultation on the abolition of personal licences. Whilst we welcome the Government’s Red Tape Challenge, we are nevertheless united in our opposition to the abolition of personal licences.




The current system provides a coherent, qualification-based licensing system that lays down a national, minimum standard of training and vetting that applies to all licensed premises. Since 2005 over 575,000 people have gained the personal licence qualification. It is both a pre-requisite for a personal licence application and a Technical Certificate in the licensed retail apprenticeship. This level of training in licensing law has never before been achieved in the sector. Additional training should build on this, not be an alternative to it. The criminality check also ensures that those with an unacceptable criminal record are excluded from authorising alcohol sales. The current levels of training and vetting are key factors in supporting the licensing objectives.




Targeted training: where licensing authorities deem it necessary to target additional training or criminality checks, they have the power to do so at present on application or review. It should also be noted that changes to legislation introduced by this government make it possible for a premises licence review to be initiated by the local licensing authority itself.




Whilst we are pleased that the government’s proposed changes retain the content of training and the criteria for criminality checks as national benchmarks, our members are concerned that if the application of these national training and vetting criteria are subject to the discretion of local licensing authorities, through decisions on the types of premises or categories of staff who need training or vetting, then a consistent national approach will be replaced by a patchwork quilt of over 400 local policies. Our multiple-site members are further concerned that keeping track of premises where licensing authorities have imposed a training condition will be hugely difficult, and once imposed a training condition will remain in perpetuity unless removed at a subsequent review, even if the type and operation of the premises changes. This will significantly add to the burden of complexity and cost, not reduce it.




Levels of supervision: our experience is that most licensed premises go beyond the minimum legal requirement and employ more than one personal licence holder. We estimate that across the sector between a fifth and a third of staff in customer-facing positions hold personal licences. This ensures that where the DPS is absent, a shift manager who has been trained, vetted and licensed is present to supervise. If only the DPS can authorise alcohol sales, as proposed, then either the DPS will have to be present at all times alcohol is sold, or sales will have to be authorised in absentia.




The personal licence: gaining a personal licence confers authority on the holder. It symbolises that the holder has been trained and vetted and is a fit and proper person to authorise other members of staff to sell alcohol. One of the key faults of the licensing system under the 1964 Act was the inconsistency and cost that arose from having over 400 local licensing justices’ policies. The current system was constructed precisely in order to create coherence and consistency across local boundaries. The abolition of the personal licence, and its replacement with a ‘gold-plated’ DPS, is a retrograde step.




Given the real concerns of so many industry representatives, we very much hope that you will agree to meet with us before any final decision is made. 




Yours faithfully,




Brigid Simmonds OBE                                                


Chief Executive                                              


British Beer & Pub Association                                              




Tim Hulme


Chief Executive          






David McHattie                      


Chief Executive


Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers




Miles Beale                                                                                         


Chief Executive                                              


Wine and Spirit Trade Association                                                                  




James Lowman


Chief Executive                      


Association of Convenience Stores




Ufi Ibrahim


Chief Executive          


British Hospitality Association




David Hawksworth                                                                 




Federation of Licensed            Victuallers Associations                                  


Tracy Damestani


Chief Executive


National Casino Forum                       




Ros Pritchard OBE


Director General


British Holiday & Home Parks Association




Andy Sutch                                         


Chief Executive                                  


Business in Sport and Leisure 



Miles Baron


Chief Executive


The Bingo Association




Paul Chase


Director & Head of UK Compliance


CPL Training Group



Jane Longhurst


Chief Executive


Meetings Industry Association  




David Howell


Chief Executive


Holiday Centres Association