Warning for licensees over 10-fold increase in premises licence fees

By John Harrington and Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: License, Kate nicholls

Pubs could face a 10-fold proce hike in premises fees, warned the ALMR
Pubs could face a 10-fold proce hike in premises fees, warned the ALMR
Operators should prepare for 10-fold increases in premises licence fees, a leading sector lobbyist has warned.

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls also warned that, even if such big increases do not materialise, local authorities may push for late-night levies instead to generate income.

Nicholls told the ALMR’s autumn conference in Bath that a consultation on the fee structure, based on the principle of cost recovery for the authority, would probably take place next spring.

She pointed out that fee levels haven’t risen for a number of years.

Red tape

“You’d better plan for a 10-fold increase in your annual premises licence fees,” Nicholls said. “If not, you might find that you end up getting a late-night levy.”

However, Nicholls said there was hope that operators may be able to reclaim some licence fees — and maybe charges for having tables and chairs outside venues — following the ‘Hemming case’, in which a group of sex-shop owners in Westminster successfully argued they had unfairly been charged enforcement fees on top of administrative costs.

More clarity on the issue is expected in the next two weeks or so, Nicholls said. “In the meantime, plan on fees going up — all in the name of red tape,” she added.

Licence fees are banded according to rateable value and vary from £100 to £1,905 per site.

Capped

The British Beer & Pub Association agreed there is concern about a fee rise.

A spokesman said: “We are certainly concerned because there is the potential for councils to increase fees dramatically.

“We have told the Home Office that fees should be capped nationally — as they are for gambling licences — and increase by no more than 10%.

“Anything further would be particularly burdensome on pubs, as the majority of these are small businesses.  We will certainly be making these points strongly during any consultation.”

Poppleston Allen’s managing partner Jonathan Smith said that he expected fees to increase, but he was unsure by how much.

“If the Hemming decision is effective and means licensing authorities can’t charge for enforcement, I can see the late-night levy will be-come a much more attractive option for authorities.”

Related topics: Licensing law

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