There is a "significant shortfall" in personal licence applications to sell alcohol in Scotland just months before new laws come into force, a trade body has warned.
A Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Beer and Pub Association has revealed that only 11,200 applications for personal licences had been received by licensing boards in Scotland, as of 20 March.
Scotland has around 17,000 licensed premises and if each does not have at least one personal licence holder by the 1 September they will not be allowed to sell alcohol.
Patrick Browne, chief executive of the SBPA, said: "These figures are a snapshot of the position several weeks ago and it may have moved on, but these numbers should be of real concern to anyone involved in the administration of Scotland's licensed industry.
"They clearly demonstrate that there is a significant shortfall in the numbers of applications that have been lodged for personal licenses."
Browne warned that at the very least there would need to be 17,000 personal applications issued by 1 September and pointed out that the current figure may be even lower than it appears as premises may have put in for multiple personal licences.
The SBPA said that with many licensing boards setting a deadline of 1 June for applications to give them time to issue the licenses, many publicans could find themselves unable to sell alcohol past 1 September.
"What we need is a reassurance from Government that if applications are lodged late, but still before the 1 September that premises will be allowed to continue to sell alcohol pending personal licence being issued and than an intimidation of the premises being made," said Browne.
By Chris Druce
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