Consultation Launched on Liquor Licensing Laws in NI

Consultation Launched on Liquor Licensing Laws in NI

14 October 2019

Reacting to the news that the Department for Communities has published a new consultation on the reform of Liquor Licensing in Northern Ireland, Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster said today:

“We welcome the publication of this new consultation by the Department for Communities on the reform of Liquor Licensing and commend the Department’s Permanent Secretary for undertaking the preparatory work in advance of a return of government in Northern Ireland.”

“Unfortunately, we have been here several times before, without movement. However, this consultation will help to ensure our licensing laws can be modernised at the earliest opportunity, once government returns.”

“It was not so long ago that a Bill to reform our outdated licensing laws had already been introduced to the last Assembly, prior to its collapse, with much of the heavy lifting in terms of drafting already carried out. By re-consulting it may feel like we are back to square one, but with the last consultation now seven years old, it is vital that this is updated and ready for action once we have a government, allowing them to move forward swiftly and decisively, and address the outdated law as it currently sits.”

“We are currently working in an anti-business environment where our sector is struggling with high rate of hospitality VAT, extortionate business rates and ever increasing wage bills, compounded by labour and migration issues brought about by Brexit fears. This is not to mention the minimal economic growth predicted over the next year by some of our leading economists and the need to be given the opportunity to increase our consumer base to balance the books.”

“We already have written cross party political commitment to modernise this legislation and widespread public support to push for the changes that will have positive impacts on the likes of opening times during key holiday periods and giving businesses in the sector the tools to run profitably and to allow them to reinvest.”

“The hospitality sector is a £1.2billion a year industry and is the backbone of our tourism offer and economy as clearly stated in the Programme for Government. Its growth is being heavily curtailed by legislative paralysis and is a major cause in restricting our potential. Tens of millions of pounds are being lost per annum and this position is continuing to damage our international reputation. Any competitive advantage that we have as a European destination is being eroded.”

“Modernisation of our outdated licensing laws are long overdue and it must be addressed as a matter of priority.”