Small businesses to benefit from relaxed alcohol rules

Alcohol Image copyright PA

The government has launched a consultation to discuss the details of a new alcohol licence that could benefit small businesses and charities.

The Community and Ancillary Sellers' Notice (CAN) is part of the Deregulation Bill being considered by Parliament.

It may make it easier and cheaper for businesses like bed and breakfasts to sell limited amounts of alcohol.

Currently, they have to apply for the same licences as larger establishments.

The aim of the consultation is to work out the details of the new licence, such as the exact limits of alcohol that could be served, which businesses will be eligible, how often events can be held and details of the fee.

'Unnecessary burdens'

The government says the CAN should only apply to small providers of overnight accommodation, who wish to sell small amounts of alcohol as part of the service they already provide, and to community groups such as charities that hold occasional events at which they would like to sell alcohol.

These groups complain that, currently, licences are too expensive, given the low volume of sales they are likely to make. Licences can cost anywhere between £100 and £1900, on top of the £75 application fee.

The government is now suggesting that, for a low, one-off fee, a CAN user would for three years be able to sell a limited amount alcohol between the hours of 7am and 11pm.

Community groups would be able to name up to three premises at which they will sell alcohol at organised events, with a maximum of 300 attendees.

The Minister of State for Crime Prevention, Lynn Featherstone, said the CAN will allow particular low-risk businesses and community groups to sell a small amount of alcohol, while providing appropriate, light-touch controls.

She said: "The Coalition Government is committed to reducing the unnecessary burdens on responsible businesses, but not at the expense of undermining safeguards against crime and disorder or public nuisance, and we want to get this balance right. "

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