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National: A new threat to the survival of pubs

PUBLISHED: 13:35 11 April 2014 | UPDATED: 13:35 11 April 2014

Young people enjoy beer at local pub.

Young people enjoy beer at local pub.

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Enormous leap in licensing fees proposed

Government plans to change the way licensing fees are calculated for pubs, bars and nightclubs by local councils could result in huge new bills for small local pubs, according to the British Beer & Pub Association, in its response to a Government consultation, which closed this week.

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. 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. Also, other fees, such as those for Temporary Event Notices (TENs) and minor variations, would see steep rises.

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.

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.

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.

“Given the huge concerns I hope the Government reconsiders, and takes a close look at our alternative proposals.”

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