18th February 2020

Pub Legal and Licensing Issues in 2020

New Governments, and New Year’s, always have one thing in common. The introduction of New Legislation… and 2020 is no different.
Here we have a short article to help make you aware of some of the pressing legal and political issues that you should be aware of.


Deposit Return Scheme

The environment and sustainability is top of this year’s agenda. If 2019 was the year of reusable, or environmentally friendly straws, 2020 is going to see the recycling movement and environmental issues go further than before. Having a viable Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), is one such incentive or operation proposal.

Expected to be launched in Scotland in April 2021, a DRS is essentially a payment method on recycling plastic bottles, steel and aluminium cans and glass drinking containers.

Pubs and Restaurants that sell the products for consumption on their premises will not have to charge a deposit to customers, but they will be expected to store the used containers until recycled. This is where the proposed schemes run into a little trouble. For example, where do these premises store their recycling? And how secure is it?

The second question might sound daft, but think about it, these schemes would essentially give recyclable waste a value, and could be quite an easy target to thieves. With the Local Authority responsible for collections, it could cause some friction between them and operators, especially given the potential value of certain businesses recycling. Now of course more recycling needs to happen, but such logistical headaches could undermine the whole system if not thought out and accounted for properly.

DRS was mentioned in December’s Queen Speech, and if you haven’t heard of it before now, you can guarantee it will be a buzz word mentioned time and again before too long.


Gaming machine test purchasing

Gaming machines and gambling have been a hot topic for a number of years now, and 2020 is no different. Think back to the fixed betting odds maximum stake debate and it’s easy to see why.

It's important to make sure your gaming machines are only used by people over 18 years old.

It’s important to make sure your gaming machines are only used by people over 18 years old.

Issues to look out for in 2020 include the under-age use of gaming machines in your establishment. As a licensee it is your responsibility to ensure, just as with under-age drinking, that under-age gambling does not happen on your premises. The Gambling Commission’s test purchasing in 2019 showed 20-30% of venues were failing to stop under 18’s from using gaming machines in their premises. As a result, you can expect this to be one area of scrutiny throughout 2020. Furthermore, a major reason for this appears to be the assumed lack of training given to staff about gaming machines in pubs and licensed premises.

In fact, some local authorities have revoked and removed gaming machine permits and gaming machines from pubs as they have failed test purchase operations.

For more information please refer to our article from 2018, Gaming Machines Guide for Pubs.


Minimum Unit Pricing

Again, similar to Gaming Machines, Minimum Unit Pricing has been circulating with increasingly regularity over the last few years. Initially approved in 2012, it has been a law in Scotland since 2018, and so far appears to have been largely successful, although without some controversy and criticism in certain circles.

Given that Minimum Unit Pricing legislation is set to be introduced in Wales on the 2nd of March, after the Welsh Assembly approved an MUP of 50p, it’s increasingly likely that we might see a similar move in England in the near future.

While licensees and pub operators would be very sensible to keep up to date with developments in Scotland and Wales, off-sales are certainly where MUP has had the most effect in Scotland.

Research conducted by the British Medical Journal clearly shows that there has been a reduction in the amount of individuals who consumed large amounts of alcohol, or higher than average before the ruling was brought into law. Particularly those in low income environments where problem drinking has been a big problem and issue for society.

You would expect a similar trend to be seen in Wales, as well as debate and controversy around the issue flair up in England.


Brexit… and the USA.

We completely understand if you are sick of Brexit talk. You aren’t alone, and it’s increasingly difficult to cut through the barrage of white noise, soundbites, news reports and column inches dedicated to something that no-one, really understands or grasps the full implications of. And why is that? Because it’s never been done before and there’s still a lot of negotiating to be done.

However, the facts remain; January 31st saw the United Kingdom officially enter the Transition Period. A halfway house if you will, whereby the Government can negotiate further with EU on trade deals and legal headaches including complicated issues such as Worker’s Rights and Tariffs are on the table.

white wine in a glass

US Wine tariffs are hitting European winemakers hard.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, President Trump is facing down a looming election and, having been acquitted of the impeachment charges, is prepared to fight for his political life and ensure another 4 years in The White House. What does this mean for Britain? Trump is a businessman, firstly, he IS genuinely interested in doing a deal with Britain, but remember his slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’. Trump will have his own, and America’s interest firmly ahead of ours in any trade deal, Eg. Showing America’s economic strength.

However now it’s time to introduce the “elephant in the room”. “The cat amongst the pigeons”, is US Tariffs. As we’ve seen with the US trade war on China, and particularly steel, another market Trump is placing his weight on is Wine. The US currently have a 25% levy on European Wine over 14%abv, including British Wine. In the final Quarter of 2019, French still wines alone to the US dropped 17.5% causing a €40m euro loss for French producers. Until very recently, the 25% import levy looked set to rise to 100%. Although, somewhat bittersweet news the threat of a 100% tax is redundant, for now at least. On the flipside, the second biggest importer of French wine is… The United Kingdom. France is by far the most popular European wine producer, but is behind the USA (2nd) and Australia(1st) in British tastes.

If anything drastically changes, or we need to make you aware of a Government announcement that affects the UK Pub industry we will write an article about it or make you aware via our social channels.

Thank you for reading this Trust Inns’ Blog post, if you would like to read more please see our dedicated blog page. Furthermore, if you are a Trust Inns pub and would like to feature in a blog post on the website, please contact us.

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