House of Commons Library

Alcohol: cumulative impact assessments

Published Tuesday, May 2, 2017

This Library Briefing Paper gives an overview of cumulative impact assessments in England and Wales.

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Under the Licensing Act 2003, responsibility for licensing decisions in England and Wales rests with local authorities. This includes the issuing of premises licences and club premises certificates.

Cumulative impact policies (CIPs) are not referred to in the Licensing Act 2003. However they are discussed in Home Office guidance (March 2015) on the Act where “cumulative impact” means “the potential impact on the promotion of the licensing objectives of a significant number of licensed premises concentrated in one area.” The licensing objectives are:

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

As the Home Office guidance explains, section 5 of the Act requires a licensing authority to prepare and publish a statement of its licensing policy at least every five years. This statement can, following consultation, include a CIP, the aim of which is to limit the growth of licensed premises where the promotion of the licensing objectives is being compromised.

The effect of adopting a CIP is to “create a rebuttable presumption” that applications for licences which are likely to add to the existing cumulative impact will normally be refused (or subject to certain limitations) unless the applicant can demonstrate that there will be no negative cumulative impact on the licensing objectives.

There are over 200 CIPs in England and Wales.

Section 141 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 will amend the 2003 Act to place CIPs on a statutory footing. According to the Government, this will “provide greater clarity and legal certainty about their use”.


Commons Briefing papers CBP-7269

Author: John Woodhouse

Topic: Licensing

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