One-stop-shop for licences

Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition’s extended facility in Wexford was officially opened by Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition’s extended facility in Wexford was officially opened by Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Under a new government plan, retailers will be able to apply for all of their annual licensing requirements at a single time via a single portal by the end of 2013. Fiona Donnellan reports



16 January 2013

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The government commissioned a report by Forfás, the national policy advisory board, as part of its Action Plan for Jobs 2012 into licensing and regulation of businesses. The report, published just before Christmas, outlined that there is potential to reduce licensing processes by up to one third and to reduce the burden on businesses. This report was presented, together with a set of proposals, to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Jobs.

The Forfás report focused on 159 licenses across key sectors of the economy, including retail, hospitality and construction. It found there is potential to reduce the burden of compliance with licenses by one third. This includes the removal and/or amalgamation of up to 20 licenses. The committee agreed to proceed with the implementation of the recommendations in the report by the end of the fourth quarter of 2013. The announcement was made by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton and Junior Minister John Perry.

One-stop-shop for licenses

The primary recommendation from the report is the introduction of a single integrated licensing system, including excise licenses for retailers. Currently, retailers are required to have up to 50 licenses to operate their business. Forfás recommends the one-stop-shop to cut back on the amount of time and money spent in making sure that all licenses are correct and up to date. According to the report, streamlining this process will "reduce the burden on owners having to apply at various times throughout the year to a multiplicity of state agencies and thereby reduce some of the administrative burden on businesses."

Minister Bruton says the implementation of the recommendations in the report will ease the burden on small businesses and reduce costs. "A key part of the government’s plan for jobs and growth is to reduce costs on businesses to make it easier for them to start-up, expand and create the jobs we need. This announcement is part of a range of actions being taken across government to improve competitiveness and reduce red tape."

A positive step

There’s been a positive reaction to the publication of the report from retail lobby groups. RGDATA has welcomed the report, in particular the commitment from government to streamline the licensing process for retailers. Director general Tara Buckley says: "RGDATA first highlighted this ridiculous, time consuming and complicated red tape burden in a report produced for us by economist Jim Power in 2010. We are delighted to see that the government is going to make streamlining the licensing process a priority in 2013."

Junior Minister John Perry says the new system will benefit retailers and save time and money: "I envisage the final delivery will be a one-stop-shop website for business licensing requirements. Rather than having to invest the time in dealing with a multiplicity of agencies, business will be able to apply for all licensing requirements, applications and renewals through one single website. This will significantly simplify the process for business and cut down on the administrative burden, particularly for those businesses that require multiple licenses such as the retail sector."

Red tape burden

The introduction of a simplified system for licensing will reduce the burden for retailers by 33%, above the EU recommendation of 25%. Minister Bruton says this reduction will free up retailers’ time, "helping to improve our competitiveness and create the employment we need." Along with the streamlining of the licensing process, the report also suggests a reduction in the renewal frequency of certain licenses and an increase in the validity of licenses from one year to three years.

Joe Sweeney, NFRN Ireland president, also welcomed the report and hopes retailers will see a reduction in the cost of licensing: "As the report does not go into any detail pertaining to the costs of amalgamated licenses it omits a huge concern for retailers. I would hope that the combination of licenses would result in a saving for retailers but as this is not in print, I am concerned it will not be the case." The resulting reduction in cost from the streamlining of licenses remains to be seen.

Inspection reduction

The report also recommends a move to "rigorous application of risk based inspection" in an effort to cut down on the amount of inspections carried out by the various departments on retailers. Buckley says that this is a huge issue for their members: "Having different, unannounced inspectors turning up in shops to poke around the fruit and vegetable displays splitting open bags to check the size of potatoes, another to check if the eggs are clean and uncracked, yet another to inspect the bottles and cartons of juice and asking to take away bottles of wine to "check for residues" seems like a lot of replication and a pretty wasteful use of resources."

Chief executive of Forfás Martin D. Shanahan says there "is significant potential to improve the way licenses are processed and issued and to extend the renewal frequency of licences to reduce the burden on businesses while still ensuring that the regulatory objective is achieved."

Government aims to have the new system in place by the end of 2013, an ambitious goal, but Sweeney is confident that it is achievable. "I would like to think that it’s a realistic timeframe. Retailers have been waiting a long time for this and any additional delays will only add to the existing level of frustration with the government."

The full report is available on the Forfás website,



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