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The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities' Summer regulatory update includes updates on Sensitive Information in Licensing Applications, changes to the rules around off-sales alcohol & transferring taxi and private hire vehicle licensing to upper-tier and combined authorities.
Introduction of the Sensitive Information in Licensing Applications (SILA) protocol (Home Office): The SILA protocol will be similar to the Sensitive Information in Planning Applications (SIPA). It will be introduced into the Licensing Act 2003 (precise timings to be confirmed) and will complement the Protect Duty proposals although the scope will not be limited to the Protect Duty. It will be a light touch process to ensure that detailed plans of licensed premises cannot be accessed for malicious purposes. Detailed guidance on the SILA protocol will be issued in due course.
Changes to the rules around off-sales alcohol licences (Home Office): The update confirmed that "The Business and Planning Act 2020 made changes to alcohol off-sales rules to help the hospitality sector cope with the pandemic and associated lockdown. These changes last until 30 September 2022." However the update also mentioned that "We are engaging with stakeholders to understand if there is appetite to amend the Licensing Act so as to allow a permanent form of these regulatory easements."
We previously reported that the Home Office confirmed the end of the off-sales easement but the above suggests that the Government is considering options to make the easement permanent. A recent LGA update confirmed also that:
"Given that a number of premises have benefitted from the easement, the Home Office will shortly be seeking the views of the licensed sector, licensing authorities and other interested parties to understand whether there would be support for a permanent arrangement similar to the streamlined approach available through the Business and Planning Act easement. We will share further details on this in due course."
Exploring transferring taxi and private hire vehicle licensing to upper-tier and combined authorities:
In the Levelling Up White Paper, the Government said it would “explore transferring control of taxi and private hire vehicle licensing to both combined authorities and upper-tier authorities.”
The Regulatory update confirmed that "The Department for Transport will be exploring the implications of this change with stakeholders this year."