Trade bodies slam new hike in licensing fees

21 January 2005 by
Trade bodies slam new hike in licensing fees

Hospitality bodies have criticised an eleventh-hour hike in the fees charged to businesses under the soon-to-be-introduced new licensing regime.

Under proposals announced by the Government today, the one-off payment for a new licence, which premises can apply for from 7 February, would jump from between £80 and £500 to between £100 and £635.

Meanwhile the annual fee will rise from £40-£225 to £70-£350.

Pubs in larger towns and cities will be hit harder, paying £1,095 up front and an annual charge of £1,050.

The British Hospitality Association said that the new levies would hit hotels and restaurants despite the fact that the vast majority caused no problems to local authorities.

Chief executive Bob Cotton said: "It is a disappointing start to the new legislation before it is even implemented. This latest change of mind represents a complete about-turn on their previous intentions."

A spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association described the figures as a significant increase on those in the consultation paper.

"We accept the idea of fees but we are disappointed by this announcement," the spokesman added.

The Government claims the new fee structure will enable tougher protections for local residents against alcohol-related crime.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said: "These fees will give local authorities the tools to do the job."

In relation to the higher costs for licensees in large cities, she said: "They are a major beneficiary of our night-time economy. They should put more back in to policing it."

Under the current system licensees pay £30 every three years to serve alcohol until 11pm, regardless of the size of the venue. The new system takes into account the rateable value of the property.

by Tom Bill

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