Licensing reforms could prompt £2bn hangover for business

According to a report by finance and accountancy recruitment specialist Stephen Beagent Associates, extending the licensing laws to open pubs 24-hours a day could cause a hangover for industry.

Home secretary Jack Straw said the change was needed because the present law was out of date and contributed to public order and policing problems.

But Stephen Beagent believes that while reform may assist the two million people employed in the alcohol, entertainment, hospitality, tourism and leisure industries, the impact of the proposed changes upon employers in the rest of the economy has been ignored.

Jane Sheehan, new business development executive said: ‘Alcohol costs industry an estimated £2 billion per year and 75% of employers say alcohol misuse is a problem in their organisation, and that up to 25% of accidents at work involve intoxicated workers.’

Additionally, charity Alcohol Concern has estimated the annual cost of alcohol-related sickness absence is £964.37m.

Stephen Beagent also believes any increase in licensing hours could mean employers will face rising taxes and National Insurance contributions, unless the government invests the extra tax revenue from additional alcohol sales.

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