Wednesday, June 15

Stop at the start not at the end

Small Businesses Penalised Under New Licensing Regulations.

Working my way, in the manor of an insect, around the many news sources now available on the internet this morning I noted a report from 'bdaily'

'bdaily' an e news letter based in the North East takes up the issue of the impact of the new Licensing Law.

''Small pubs and businesses that do not make the bulk of their profit from alcohol will be unfairly penalises by the new licensing regime, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Up to 40,000 small businesses including wedding venues, corner shops, tea rooms and agricultural shows will be hit by the increase in fees as larger pubs, bars and nightclubs.

FSB NE Policy Chairman John Wright said: “The new licensing scheme is such a blunt instrument that it fails to distinguish between a city centre fun pub and a bed and breakfast that makes less then £100 a year from alcohol sales. “The government has underestimated the vast array of businesses that come under the new regime, and has made no attempt to recognise that for many of them alcohol is just a very small proportion of their total sales.”

Affected businesses are urged to accept the licensing regime and complete their applications in time to avoid being shut down, while the FSB calls for the licensing regime to be urgently reviewed by an independent panel. The changes proposed by the FSB include changes to the fees system to make them operate on a genuine sliding scale based on more distinct bands of rateable values, a reduction in fees for wholesalers and businesses that do not make the bulk of their profit from alcohol, and measures to combat red tape.''

The point that is not made by bdaily, or elsewhere, is that the FSB is comlaining rightly but far to late about the implementation of the new law. The FSB did not address the devil in the detail of the legislation whilst it was being drafted three years ago, a point I made to the FSB policy unit in the North East many times.

Parliament is now unable to make any change to the Licensing Law until, at the earliest, next Spring, by which time the damage will have been done.

The Federations reaction to the Licensing legislation is the same as its attitude to the new law that will shortly seriously effect electrical contractors. The wide ranging Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the Restriction of the use of Hazardous Substances Directives. Both these directives will impact on small businesses between June 2004 and June 2006.

Dealing with the matter of how to comply, or how to change to details of implementation once the laws have been drafted, is not to relevantly nor effectively address the problem of regulation. Neither is it meaningful to repeat broad statements of intent. What is needed is to effectively influence the process of law making at the pre-drafting stage.

When pressure groups complain that the law is wrong after the law making process has been completed and when the law has been added to the statute book is in reality to admit failure. It is the function of established pressure groups to opose legislation that will adversly effect its members not to complain after the event.
Once the law is made all that can be then done is for representative groups to organise a token public whinge, unless that is mass non compliance is advocated in a style the trade union movement was once so adapt at implementing.


Sarah-Jane Hollands said...

A very interesting post Mr Troy and overall a blog I shall be keeping a close eye on.

Peter Troy said...

Clearly an astute Lady, Editor