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Authorities told to take ‘pragmatic' approach to licence breaches and missed payments

08 April 2020 by
Authorities told to take ‘pragmatic' approach to licence breaches and missed payments

Local authorities have been told to take a "considered and pragmatic" approach to licence breaches and missed payments.

Kit Malthouse MP, minister of state for crime and policing, has written to councils to suggest areas where a "a pragmatic and more flexible approach" can be taken during the coronavirus outbreak, while ensuring the licensing objectives are safe-guarded.

The minister said local authorities had discretion when considering late payment or non-payment of annual premises licence fees or late-night levy charges, adding that is possible to delay the suspension of a licence where this occurs.

A similar approach was advised regarding breaches of terms, particularly where they did not have a significant adverse impact on licensing objectives.

Malthouse wrote: "These are extremely challenging times. With the right spirit of collaboration, communication and pragmatism I believe that we can get through them with minimum damage to businesses and the licensing objectives."

Councils have also been advised that they should consider allowing deliveries outside of normal times, granting flexibility on advertising applications, and the using remote hearings.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "This additional flexibility for licensees is some welcome positive news at a moment when any good news is needed. The government has shown a great deal of common sense in advising local authorities to act more pragmatically and flexibly during the outbreak.

"Hospitality businesses are currently under a huge amount of strain. The majority have no revenue whatsoever at the minute, and those that are operating in some capacity are working hard to support the needs of their communities and key workers. Pursuing a tactic of 'business as usual' would have only heaped more pressure on businesses and stretched council resources even further.

"This scope for greater flexibility while the crisis is still in full swing is exactly the kind of lateral approach to business support we need."

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