Further regulation of the drinks industry could prove a crippling blow for many West Midlands-based pub businesses, according to experts in Birmingham.
Licensing lawyers at Hammonds say that a proposed mandatory code of practice covering happy hours, promotion and labelling, announced on Tuesday, could put pressure on an industry that is already feeling the effects of tougher trading conditions.
“As the impact of the smoking ban, a consumer spending squeeze and rising costs continue to take their toll on an increasing number of pubs in the region, the prospect of further regulation is likely to be unwelcome for pubs groups and individual licensees,” said Helen Williams, a licensing specialist for Hammonds. “The drinks industry is already heavily regulated with businesses not only needing to comply with rules relating to the sale of alcohol but increasingly relating to the operation of their premises, including carrying out their own fire risk assessments.
“Having faced Government pressure in terms of recent hikes in alcohol duty, yet more pressure from Ministers will prove hard to swallow.”
The Government consultation is part of a wider review to respond to the problem of binge drinking in England and Wales.
It also follows the release of a report which concluded that many within the alcohol industry were not adhering to a voluntary code calling on them to display the unit content of products to encourage sensible drinking.