MPs are debating an amendment to the Police Reform & Responsibility Bill which would allow licensing authorities in England and Wales the flexibility to set fees that cover their costs.
At present, the Local Government Association estimates that council tax payers have subsidised the licensing system to the tune of £100 million more than anticipated.
Licensing solicitor Jeremy Allen of Poppleston Allen described the move as bad news for the industry, even though the Home Office is proposing an upper limit on fees.
He added: “Variable fees could be payable in different parts of the country. Constraints may be imposed upon the licensing authority's power to determine the amount but, subject to that, the licensing authority appears to be able to fix the fee, and revise it. There may also be different fees for different types of premises.”