Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will have its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 8 June 2022.
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, published on 11 May 2022 with an accompanying policy note, aims to drive local growth, empower local leaders to regenerate their areas, and ensure everyone can share in the United Kingdom’s success.
Included are provisions relating to pavement licensing and licensing fees. The Local Government Association (LGA) has published its position on the Bill's licensing provisions:
- The LGA supports the Government’s plans to create a permanent pavement licensing regime. Councils have worked hard to implement the temporary provisions to support local hospitality businesses as they recover from the effects of the pandemic and have welcomed pavement licences as a way of reinvigorating the high street. However, there is a need to ensure that the permanent regime more effectively balances the needs of businesses and local residents.
- It is good that the Government has engaged with councils and the LGA to improve the temporary pavement licensing regime under the Business and Planning Act 2020 and address some of councils’ concerns.
- We are pleased that the licence fee has been increased from a cap of £100 per application to being capped at £500 for new licence applications and £350 for renewals. Under the temporary regime, many councils were losing significant amounts of money by administering the regime. This fee increase is therefore very welcome, although as a general principle, the LGA believes that licence fees should be locally set fees to ensure licensing regimes are cost neutral and self-funding. Locally set fees ensure that councils are able to fully recover their costs and also that businesses do not pay in excess of the local cost of processing an application. If the Government is intent on setting a national fee, it should ensure there is a process for ensuring it is regularly uprated to take account of inflation and rising costs incurred by councils.
- As an example of where this has not happened, fees under the Licensing Act 2003 have not been updated since 2005 and councils are incurring deficits on the cost of administering licensing work. At the very least, a flat rate fee increase is required.