Press release

Street trading and pedlary laws to be modernised

Reforms to street trading rules will make them both stronger and fairer, Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said today (16 October 2014).

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Reforms to street trading rules will make them both stronger and fairer, Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said today.

The new system, being introduced next year, will remove unnecessary burdens from traders operating in market places up and down the country whilst making sure the system is compliant with EU law.

Plans set out in the government’s response to a consultation held last year include:

  • amending street trading legislation so that undue restrictions on licences for pedlars and street traders are removed
  • character checks to include a search of the police national databases to be applied consistently across the UK
  • removing the requirement for a pedlar to have lived in the area where he or she wants to operate

The planned changes are part of the government’s Red Tape Challenge and will come into force in April 2015.

Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said:

Street traders play a vital role in vibrant marketplaces right across the UK. These changes will ensure that shoppers can have confidence that street traders have undergone proper checks before trading, while making those checks simple and straightforward.

Street trading stalls are an important part of British culture and offer a great place to shop. We want a system that is fair for everyone who wants to sell and buy goods.

National Director of Operation Liberal – part of the National Doorstep Crime Intelligence Unit, Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman said:

We very much welcome this announcement from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills today. The Pedlars Act has enabled police forces to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

This has been done by vetting applications to trade in this way and identifying those individuals who purport to be legitimate traders, yet have a record of dishonesty and other previous convictions both in the UK and abroad. The new character checks are a welcome strengthening of the current certification regime.

The changes will ensure that consumers can have confidence that pedlars will have the same checks no matter where they trade. This will include a check of the Police National Database to see whether the applicant has a criminal record or is suspected of having links with criminal activities.

The reforms will also remove a requirement for traders to prove that they have lived in an area they wish to trade in for at least one month. This was not compliant with European law and restricted enterprise unnecessarily.

The changes will help to reduce barriers to street traders and pedlars by making it easier to trade, boosting retail and helping small traders - including many young entrepreneurs - to expand and grow.

Notes to editors:

  1. There are approximately 4,000 pedlars in the UK who essentially trade on foot, moving around to customers, carrying their goods.
  2. Pedlars are usually sole traders, often selling small novelty items. Licensed street traders, on the other hand, are generally static traders operating in a specific location from a stall selling fruit, clothes, etc.
  3. The Pedlars Act describes a pedlar as someone who travels and trades on foot and goes from town to town or door to door, carrying goods for sale.
  4. Schedule 4 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1972 establishes a street trading regime for those local authorities who choose to adopt it (this is discretionary). Minor technical changes will also be made to bring this legislation into line with the EU Services Directive. For example, removing the grounds for refusing a street trading licence if there are already shops or street traders in the area who sell the same goods.
  5. The Red Tape Challenge invited the public, business and the voluntary and community sector to give their views, comments and ideas on what regulations should stay, be improved, or be scrapped altogether. The full results are at Red Tape Challenge.
Published 16 October 2014