Sector trade bodies have urged the Government not to let the Licensing Act 2003 be undermined by further red tape.
Both the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) will give evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee inquiry about the act on 18 October.
The BBPA has proposed a moratorium on further legislative change during the current Parliament, less burdensome provisions around areas such as advertising and greater support from the Government for partnership working.
Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Pubs sustain over 800,000 jobs, and the sector is constantly adapting to changing consumer tastes, and playing a vital role in local communities and in the high street. Yet the sector is very heavily regulated, adding greatly to the cost of doing business. The Act has been very far from the free-for-all, 24-hour drinking that we often read about. In reality we have seen a declining number of pubs, and a greater need that ever to tackle the high cost of tax and regulation, to keep pubs thriving. We now need a period of stability in the licensing regime, and a focus on reducing the cost and burden of enforcement.”
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The 2003 Licensing Act has been a powerful catalyst for innovation across the licensed hospitality sector. The Act sought to provide freedom and flexibility for pubs and bars and it has allowed businesses to present a food and drink offer which attracts a broader range of the public at different times during the day, evening and into the night.
“The Act has empowered police and, in the short term at least, helped reduce red tape that has permitted businesses to innovate and flourish.
“However, successive reforms since its implementation have added new controls and powers which are in danger of undermining the original objectives of the Act and ignoring the benefits of the successful partnerships we have built with communities.”