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Posted 14 March 2014
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Licensing Act 2003-Fee Structure Changes

The Home Office has published a consultation paper on how fees might in the future be set. If you want to read it, or even participate you have until 10th April and you can find it at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/locally-set-licensing-fees

The Licensing Act has already been amended by the introduction of powers for local authorities to set their own fees within parameters set by central government, so that they are able to recover the costs of administering licensing. But, it has been decided by the Court of Appeal that those costs can only be those relating to administration and not enforcement.

In this consultation the Home Office is clearly searching for a real change in the basis upon which fees are set, and a definite move away from relating them to rateable values towards some other staging points.

They have come up with two ideas. The first is a late terminal hour; and the other that the premises are exclusively or mainly used for the sale and consumption of alcohol (in other words the on trade).

The first suggestion would be likely to catch a large number of establishments which have a late terminal hour to allow for special occasions and which are not used on a regular basis.

The latter as well as being divisive is difficult to define, for example if the venue is within a leisure park and there is dancing or entertainment is that mainly used for the sale and consumption of alcohol?

Furthermore, the greater the ambiguity in the criteria the more likelihood of challenges and the greater the cost to local authorities of administering it thus defeating the object!

The consultation does say that the government would in any case impose a cap of the fees a local authority would be able to charge, but the guidelines proposing a maximum of £2400 for a new premises licence and £105 to specify a DPS may cause alarm!

For TEN’s the proposed cap is £100 (up from £21). Many local authorities have not been able to administer them within the £21 currently payable, but that tends to reflect the view of many that TEN’s are applications which they follow up with seeking further information etcetera when they are in fact a simple notification to the local authority.

By virtue of the current Deregulation Bill the number of TEN’s that can be sought in any one year will increase from12 to 15 with effect from 2016 and by that same Bill the need to renew your personal licence will be abolished with effect from 2015.

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