Fairer deal wanted by drink licensing bodies

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Local councils want licensing rules to be changed to stop taxpayers forking out almost £1.5 million a month to help the drinks industry.

The Local Government Association, which represents South Holland District Council and more than 370 other councils in England and Wales, wants the Government to keep its promise and allow them to set licensing fees that more accurately reflect their costs.

Fees related to applications from pubs, nightclubs and shops to hold alcohol licences are set nationally but do not reflect other costs, including site visits, liaising with police and action on breaches, which are paid out of council budgets.

An independent review of licensing fees in 2010 found that councils face a deficit from licensing fees of almost £17 million a year between 2004 and 2010.

Coun Malcom Chandler, chairman of South Holland Licensing Committee, said: “Currently, licensing fees are based on the rateable value of the property being licensed.

“But that doesn’t cover the full costs associated with premises being licensed, including administration costs, reviews and enforcements.

“The Government is introducing a new act that will, as I understand it, give licensing authorities the opportunity to set local licensing fees based on more realistic costs.

“This would be a very positive step forward.”