Local taxpayers ‘subsidising’ festivals

Local taxpayers are heavily subsidising some commercial events because of outdated licensing fees, the LGA has said.

Under the Licensing Act 2003, councils in England and Wales responsible for granting licences can charge a centrally set fee to cover the cost of issuing, administering, and enforcing these licences – but the fee has not been updated since the Act’s introduction in 2005. 

The LGA has highlighted how some festivals – attracting up to 5,000 paying attendees – pay just £100 for a licence. This is despite these types of events taking a significant amount of council time to manage.

It wants councils to be able to set fees that recover the full cost of administering licences, as a House of Lords select committee recommended in 2017. 

Cllr Clive Woodbridge, Deputy Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Councils want to support their local culture offer and ensure their towns and areas are attractive destinations to host events and licensed premises.

“However, with councils facing ever increasing budget pressures, there is a dire need for fees to be updated to fairly reflect current administrative costs. 

“Setting fees at local cost-recovery level will not impact the viability of businesses and events, because they are not a significant proportion of overall operating costs, but it will ensure that councils are reimbursed for the costs they incur and stop taxpayers subsidising licensed businesses and commercial events.”



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