Licensing Act 2003 - the next steps

The government set a clear commitment to overhaul alcohol licensing to tackle the crime and disorder caused by alcohol and the resultant health and social harms, and to rebalance the Licensing Act 2003 in favour of local communities.

From July to September 2010, the Home Office conducted a public consultation exercise on the rebalancing of the Licensing Act. You can read the government response to this consultation.

A package of measures to overhaul licensing and give communities the tools and powers they need to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder were taken forward in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility (PRSR) Bill, which was introduced on 1 December 2010. The bill received royal assent on 15 September 2011 and is now the PRSR Act 2011.

Implementing the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011

Key measures in the new Act include:

  • introducing a late night levy to help cover the cost of policing the late night economy
  • increasing the flexibility of early morning alcohol restriction orders
  • lowering the evidential threshold on licensing authorities
  • removing the vicinity test for licensing representations to allow wider local community involvement.

You can read the factsheets on the proposals introduced in the act.

None of the alcohol provisions in the act came into force immediately upon royal assent. The PRSR Act includes a commencement provision for the government to commence any or all of the provisions when it so chooses.

Existing legislative procedure and protocol mean that measures are ordinarily brought into force on one of two common commencement dates in April or October each year, so the earliest any of the alcohol provisions will be introduced is likely to be 6 April 2012, with more complex proposals which require more detailed secondary legislation likely to be commenced later.

Next steps

Some of the alcohol provisions introduced in the act require substantive changes to secondary legislation prior to commencement. Further information regarding consultation on these changes will be available shortly.

The statutory guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 will also be revised to reflect the changes introduced by the PRSR Act before the first provisions are commenced. The amendments to the statutory guidance will also include a number of other changes the government committed to making in its response to the 'Rebalancing the Licensing Act' consultation. We will be seeking input from key partners as we go through this process. 

Getting involved

We are establishing a technical advisory group including representatives of the licensed trade, police, licensing authorities, local government and the health and voluntary sectors to seek feedback as we go through the process of preparing revision to the statutory guidance.

If you have any comments on the existing statutory guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 or are able to provide technical advice on the drafting of changes to this guidance, please email the alcohol team.

Further information

Further updates on changes to secondary legislation or guidance relating to alcohol licensing will be published here as they become available.

For further information, please email the alcohol team.

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