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Small pubs face "huge" new bills under locally set licensing fees: BBPA

Small local pubs could face huge new bills if the Government’s proposals on locally set licensing fees are implemented in their current form, the British Beer & Pub Association has claimed.

The BBPA suggested that – under the Home Office proposals – pubs in the lowest bands (A and B) could see “astonishing” rises in annual fees, of 957% and 311% respectively, “if local authorities charged their fees at the new maximum caps that are proposed”.

In its submission to the Government consultation, the Association pointed out that a pub in the current Band B, the most typical band, which would currently pay £180 per year for their licence, could see their bill rise to £740.

The response warned that there would also be steep rises for other fees, such as those for Temporary Event Notices (TENs) and minor variations.

The Association said: “The BBPA does not support a move away from the current, National Non-Domestic Rateable value (NNDR) bands, a system which helps smaller venues, such as pubs, to keep their bills down. The BBPA would also prefer fees to continue to be set at a national level.

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“An alternative, but still preferable, solution to the Government’s new proposals, would be for rateable value fee bandings to remain as at present, but with an element of locally-set fees. This could be subject to a cap across each fee band based on inflationary increases since 2005, which would retain proportionality between the fee bandings and ensure that smaller pubs will not see disproportionate fee rises.”

Calling on the Home Office to reconsider its proposals, Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, said: “The Government’s proposals could see massive rises in fees for pubs, simply to open their doors.

"While a cap on fees is right in principle, the proposed limits are far too high. It might prove tempting for some local councils to hike fees dramatically, and the removal of bands would hit smaller pubs very hard.”

Last week the Local Government Association warned the Home Office against seeking to “micro-manage” the setting of licensing fees locally.

The LGA said the backing for the principle of locally-set licensing fees was welcome and long overdue, but added that it could not support proposals for an overall cap and restrictions on ‘gold plating’.

Unlike the BBPA, its submission suggested that the evidence did not justify the retention of the NNDR fee structure. It called instead for an approach based on locally-set flat fees.

 

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