Government plans to reform licensing laws are set to be unveiled on Wednesday as part of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, writes Ewan Turney. Proposals expected to be included are tougher penalties for serving under-age drinkers, with fines doubling to £20,000 for persistent offenders, and a late night levy to allow licensing authorities to charge premises which open late for the additional policing. There are also likely to be more details of a ban on below cost selling of alcohol. Reports suggested supermarkets will be banned from selling wine, beer and spirits below a national minimum price, which would be determined by adding together VAT and the cost of duty on the product. Licences could be removed from outlets that breach the rules, and ministers are also said to be considering reviewing the duty paid on beer with a view to hiking the rate for super-strength drinks. James Brokenshire, Crime Prevention Minister, said: “We’re reclaiming the high street for sensible law-abiding drinkers by putting the community at the heart of licensing decisions and creating tougher powers to tackle under-age sales. “No-one is claiming that every pub and club is a problem, in fact many pubs are a vital part of community life, but we know a minority drive damaging crime and disorder. "It’s time that local people were put in charge so they can decide what the pubs and clubs in their town centres are like at night." Other proposals included enabling licensing authorities to suspend licences due to non-payment of fees and tighter rules for temporary licences.

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