Hotels to get rebate after clerical error over TV licence fees
The television licensing agency has admitted that it collected hundreds of thousands of pounds from hotels by mistake last year.
TV Licensing is now taking steps to pay the money back, and it is understood the refund will cost about £200,000.
Hotels were overcharged because of a clerical error.
Letters explaining the rebate will go out in the next fortnight. It has come about after a mistake at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport left the necessary regulation authorising the 1999/2000 licence rise from £101 to £104 unsigned. The omission has only recently been spotted by Government officials, but hotels have already paid the higher fee.
The regulations for other areas of television licensing were correctly authorised.
Hotels are due a refund of just £3 a licence, but because hotels have to have one licence for the first 15 bedrooms and one for every five thereafter this will run into hundreds of pounds for the largest hotels. For example, the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, which has 800 bedrooms, will be able to claim a rebate of nearly £500.
TV Licensing has not put a total figure on how much money it expects to pay back, but estimates that 15,500 hotels will be eligible to claim.
Assuming there are a million hotel bedrooms with televisions in Britain - an estimate the British Hospitality Association regards as conservative - the amount hoteliers will be able to claim could approach £200,000.
The BBC is also considering increasing the licence fees it charges hotels. It is likely this would be done by reducing the number of bedrooms that it permits to be covered by a single licence. The cost for a single licence is now £109.
by David Harris
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 9-15 August 2001