Research briefing: Licensing statistics 2013


The Home Office has published new figures showing the number of alcohol licences in force in England and Wales.  This briefing provides an overview of key trends.


These include premises licensed to sell alcohol, carry out regulated entertainment (e.g. exhibiting films, staging plays or sporting events) and to provide late night refreshment (the sale of hot food or drink between 11pm and 5am). Many premises are licensed both for the sale of alcohol and late-night refreshment.

There are currently 204,400 premises licences in force: an increase of 3% since 2009.

There are three types of licence specific to alcohol retail:

  • On and off-sales (to sell alcohol for consumption on or off the premises)
  • On-sales only (to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises only)
  • Off-sales only (to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises only)

Members clubs are licensed through Club Premises Certificates.  There were 15,700 Club Premises Certificates in force in March 2013, a decrease of 9% since 2009.

In March 2013 there were:

  • 80,400 on and off-sale licences – a decrease of 2% since the previous year
  • 53,000 off-sale only licences – an increase of 5% since the previous year
  • 37,800 on-sale only licences – an increase of 4% since the previous year

There has been a long-term increase in the number of licensed premises in England and Wales.  While club certificates have declined, off-sales licences in particular have increased significantly.

Alcohol licences in Eng;and and Wales

(Source: British Beer and Pub Association; Home Office)


Anyone authorising the sale of alcohol must hold a personal licence.

  • There were 544,600 personal licences in force in March 2103: an increase of 39% since 2009.

Personal licences can be revoked by local authorities and the courts.  In the year to March 2013, 32 personal licences were revoked, forfeited or surrendered – around 0.006% of the total number.


Licensing is carried out by the licensing committee of the relevant local authority.  With the exception of ‘cumulative impact areas’ (see below), all licence applications are approved unless a representation is made by a ‘responsible authority’ such as the police, trading standards, the fire service or the regional Director of Public Health.  Representations can lead to a licence being refused or additional conditions being placed on the licence (such as a requirement for CCTV or doorstaff).  Applicants can appeal to the courts if a licence application is refused.

In the year to March 2013

  • 9,547 applications for new licences were received
  • 8,710 were granted
  • 313 were refused (3% of the total)

Licensing decisions 2012-13


Under the 2003 Licensing Act it became possible for premises to obtain a licence to sell alcohol round the clock.  In the majority of cases, this option was not pursued; however, a significant consequence of the change in legislation has been to encourage later closing (e.g. pubs closing between 1-3am, rather than 11pm) in town and city centres, which has knock on effects in terms of policing.

In the year to March 2013 there were 8,900 premises with a 24-hour licence – an increase of 17% since 2009

  • 3,295 (45%) of these are hotels, of which 85% are open to guests only
  • 2,082 (27%) are supermarkets
  • 1072 (14%) are convenience stores
  • 963 (12%) are pubs, bars or clubs

24 hour licences


Local authorities have the option to create ‘cumulative impact areas’ where they can demonstrate that the density of alcohol outlets has a detrimental impact.  In these areas, licensing teams may presume that a licence application will be refused unless the applicant can demonstrate clearly how their premises will avoid adding to cumulative impact. In effect, this puts an additional onus on the applicant to show that their premises will not add to alcohol-related harms.

In March 2013 there were 175 cumulative impact areas in force across England and Wales.

Local authorities may have a number of CIAs in their area, and they are often introduced in town and city centres.  Separate figures are not available for the number of licence applications that are rejected in these areas, so their impact on total number of licences remains unclear.


Full details of these statistics are available on the Home Office website here:

An accompanying guidance document is available here:

Separate licensing data for Scotland are available here: