My honourable friend the Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism (Shaun Woodward) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to inform the House that the Government have today formally published the final report of an independent panel that was set up to consider whether the licensing fees are set at the right level.
The panel's terms of reference were to:
consider whether the fees cover the full cost to licensing authorities;
identify the scale, extent and nature of any problem(s) encountered by licensees/licence payers and licensing authorities;
make recommendations about how the existing fee structure and levels could be developed;
ensure best practice is being fully realised across all authorities; and
identify how the regime could be developed to address any other issues, including the impact of the fee scales on community amateur sports clubs, village and community halls.
The panel, which includes representatives from local government, rural communities and industry, has made a number of recommendations about the fees regime and related issues that deal with:
the model for calculating future fees;
the excess of costs over income for licensing authorities during the introduction and implementation of the Licensing Act 2003;
the level of future fees;
future enforcement and inspection activity;
future exemptions from licensing fees;
licensing of village halls and other community facility providers, including sports clubs, temporary event notices;
future fees for large events;
licensing of public spaces/land; and
a number of recommendations to simplify and shorten the application form processes.
I am very grateful to the independent panel for its commitment and hard work and pay tribute to it for the approach it has taken in the reviewing the fees regime over the past 18 months. We will now consider the implications of the panel’s recommendations in detail. Before reaching any final decision about the level of fees and related issues, there will be a full public consultation and an opportunity for stakeholder interests to inform our thinking and future policy.
Copies of the full report are available in the Vote Office and at www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/Alcohol_entertainment/monitoring_and_evaluation/ifeereview.htm.