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May 3, 2023
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ADPH respond to licensing consultation

In 2020, there were 8,974 alcohol related deaths registered in the UK, an 18.6% increase compared with 2019 and the highest year-on-year increase since the data time series began in 2001.

In 2019/2020, there were 280,000 estimated admissions to hospital where the main reason was attributed to alcohol in England, and 35,781 in Scotland. Meanwhile, the cost of alcohol to the UK is estimated to be at least £27 billion a year, £3.5 billion of which is the cost to NHS England.

It is therefore imperative that public health should be placed at the heart of licensing policy.

The Business and Planning Act 2020 provided regulatory easements which have had significant impact on alcohol use and public health. We have therefore submitted a response to the recent Government consultation to provide our views on the impact of the regulatory easements from a public health perspective. We would also like to use this opportunity to reiterate our demand for a public health objective in the Licensing Act 2003.

Currently, the Licensing Act gives local authorities (LAs) the ability to assess the suitability of premises wishing to sell alcohol in their local area. In 2011, public health authorities were named as responsible authorities, meaning they are invited to comment on applications to sell alcohol. However, comments can only be made on the grounds of one of the four objectives in the Licensing Act:

• the prevention of crime and disorder
• public safety
• the prevention of public nuisance
• the protection of children from harm

We believe that a new public health objective should be introduced which would allow LAs to take public health impact into account in future licensing decisions. This would also serve as a legal requirement for businesses to think about public health issues.

There is widespread support among DsPH, with 89% of respondents in an LGA survey of DsPH saying that their ability to deliver effective public health would be improved ‘to a great extent’ or ‘to a moderate extent’ by the introduction of a public health licensing objective.

Read our consultation response in full
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