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Boost for hospitality businesses as al fresco licences made permanent

2-minute read

Catriona Smith

26 July 2022

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An extension to pavement licences, alcohol off-sales, and a new law on tipping practices are just some of the latest updates hospitality businesses need to know.

As expected from the Queen’s Speech back in May, the government has now confirmed several changes that will provide a much needed boost to cafes, pubs, and restaurants across the country.

Read on for three updates affecting hospitality businesses.

1. Pavement licences extended from September

The government has extended fast-track pavement licences, first introduced during the pandemic, to help businesses boost trade by letting customers dine outside.

The outdoor seating licences apply to businesses in England only.

These changes in law will become permanent in spring, according to the announcement from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 22 July.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Greg Clark said: “We want to see bustling town centres across the country and that’s why the changes we made to licensing rules will become permanent.”

Meanwhile UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls commented: “Any help that the struggling hospitality sector gets right now is gratefully received, and making pavement licences permanent is hugely positive, offering potentially business-saving opportunities to hundreds of pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes.”

Current licences won’t be renewed automatically

Businesses with a pavement licence approved on or before 22 July will need to reapply if they want to continue using tables and chairs on the highway after 30 September 2022.

The licence fee varies depending on the local authority, but it’s designed to be a fast-tracked process with a reduced rate that’s capped at £100.

Free ‘al fresco’ dining licences in the City of London

As an extra boost for London, all hospitality businesses in the City are to be given free pavement licences until the end of September next year.

This comes as the City of London Corporation unveiled its ‘Destination City’ plans to reinvent the Square Mile and boost its recovery after the pandemic.

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2. Alcohol sales to continue for takeaway orders

Laws allowing hospitality businesses to sell alcohol with takeaway and delivery orders have been extended for another year.

Originally introduced during the pandemic to help businesses, the 'alcohol off-sales easement' law will apply in England and Wales until 30 September 2023.

The legislation also lets businesses sell alcohol in outdoor areas and pavements.

This will be a welcome update as businesses struggle with rising costs and many are having to put survival tactics in place.

This doesn't replace the need for a licence to sell alcohol on a business premises.

3. Tipping laws backed by MPs

New legislation is set to make it illegal for businesses to keep staff tips and outline a code of practice on how tips should be distributed.

Though still working its way through parliament, the bill was backed by MPs during the second reading in parliament earlier this month.

Read more about the new laws on tipping – and when you can expect them to come in.

How do you feel about the changes to legislation? Let us know in the comments section below.

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