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The legal availability of alcohol is generally accepted to be one of the main controls on levels of alcohol consumption and harm. Licensing systems are therefore a key component of an overall alcohol control policy.
Licensing laws control where, when and to whom alcohol can be sold or supplied.
Restricting the physical availability of retailed alcohol (via reduced hours of sale) are among the World Health Organization’s ‘Best Buy’ interventions for reducing the prevalence of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
The following questions provide information on the licensing regulations in the UK and trends in the number of licensed premises. There is also information about the impact of licensing and availability regulations on public health and the night time economy.
Facts and stats
- The average English postcode has 31 outlets selling alcohol within walking distance (1km) of its centre. (Angus, C. et al. 2017)
- In England, alcohol outlet density increases with increasing neighbourhood deprivation.
- The most deprived 20% of postcodes have around 3 times as many outlets selling alcohol within walking distance of their centre as the least deprived 20%.
- In Scotland, alcohol-related hospital admissions and deaths correlate with the density of licensed premises. (AFS, 2018)
- In the UK, 71% of licensed premises are licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption. Between 2012 and 2018, the number of licensed premises in the UK rose by 0.5%. The number of off-licences rose 12%.
How many licensed premises are there in the UK? by The Institute of Alcohol Studies
- The number of personal licences to sell alcohol in England and Wales has risen almost 62%, from 505,000 in 2012 to 817,100 in 2022.
How many personal licences to sell alcohol are there in England and Wales? by The Institute of Alcohol Studies
- The number of personal licences to sell alcohol in Scotland rose 45%, from 40,286 in 2012 to 58,462 in 2018.
How many personal licences to sell alcohol are there in Scotland? by The Institute of Alcohol Studies
- The number of premises with a 24-hour alcohol licence increased by 31% from 8,100 in 2018 to 10,600 in 2022.
How many 24-hr licences to sell alcohol are there in England and Wales? by The Institute of Alcohol Studies
- As of 31 March 2022, supermarkets and stores (3,620) overtook hotel bars (2,689) as the most likely to have 24-hr alcohol licences. 970 pubs, bars and nightclubs owned a 24-hr alcohol licence.
Which establishments have 24-hr alcohol licences? by The Institute of Alcohol Studies
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