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Licensing news England and Wales - Spring 2019

This month in summary:

Licensing news

PPL introduce new tariff for 'specially featured entertainment' to be introduced from 1 July 2019

Following consultation, PPL, who collect copyright fees for music performers and recording right's holders, has announced that they are revamping their fees charged to pubs, clubs, bars, hotels and restaurants. The specially featured entertainment ('SFE') tariff will be applied events where recorded music forms a part of the entertainment provided where customers also are permitted to dance.

The new category replaces the current tariff that has been in place for around 30 years. PPL’s stated view is that the fees that have been charged are too low to be an appropriate reflection of the value to businesses of using recorded music at SFE events. As such, the new tariff will be based on the total number of admissions to any SFE event.

It is intended that the fee will increase in direct proportion to the size of the audience (measured in bands of 25 persons), although there will be two smaller tariff bands, for SFE events with attendances of 1-25 and 26-50 persons. PPL estimate that in many cases, this will help to ensure that licensees with small SFE events will initially pay less for such events than they are paying under the current SFE tariff.

PPL have announced a phased introduction of increased fees over a 5 year period from July 2019, based on an initial rate of 4 pence per person per hour (up slightly from the current average of 3.9 pence per person per hour). This will move to fees based on a rate of 9 pence per person per hour by 2023 (subject to annual indexation).

It is expected that the new tariffs will lead to a rise in payments to PPL for those affected of, on average, 130%. UK Hospitality has estimated that music venues could face a bill of £49m as a result of the changes once they fully come into force.

Top Licensing Tip | Audit trails: Why paperwork is king

Over the years, Government and Licensing Authorities have inexorably moved licensing away from pouring pints towards a paper exercise designed to demonstrate that operators comply with the law.

Mandatory policies on age verification, fire risk assessments, and the introduction of AWRS, not to mention the proliferation of conditions on licences requiring all manner of books and records to be created and maintained, means that being a publican is nowadays more akin to being a librarian.

Given that failing to comply with a lot of these requirements is a criminal offence, there is a pressing need to understand what is being asked and then putting in place some means of ensuring that all these documents are available, should officers make an inspection. So, what can you do to help yourself?

Indexes

A bullet -point index of the documents you need to produce, along with a reminder of when each one must be updated will go a long way to ensuring that you do not miss anything. Combining this with a calendar reminder to update documents from time to time as required should mean that at the very least, you are not simply leaving your work to atrophy and go out of date.

Organised filing systems

One of the most frustrating things to find is that when an inspection comes, you are embarrassed because whilst you know you have done the work, you cannot actually put your hands on it. Clearly marked files for different topics (employee records, fire risk assessment, AWRS certificates, risk registers etc), or even better a single file divided into sections that sits visibly on the office shelf, is a much better means of saving time and effort than scrabbling around in various nooks and crannies for that missing document. If the documents are used daily, such as a refusals register or door staff signing in book, make sure they have a permanent home and don't wander around.

Building time into your schedule

Don't think of this work as an added extra- it is as crucial as ordering stock and paying staff. Ensure that you put aside some time each week to update and check all the documents as needed. Little and often is the mantra to adopt.

Gambling news: Restrictions on FOBTs come into force, with warnings from the Gambling Commission about applying the spirit as well as the letter of the law

As of 1 April, maximum stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) in high-street bookmakers have been reduced from £100 to £2.

The Gambling Commission has written to bookmakers to remind them of their responsibilities in ensuring consumers are protected. Statements in the press to the effect that bookmakers should consider carefully whether new games or products have been designed simply to circumvent the stake cut, have served as a stark reminder that the Commission are looking to see operators comply with the spirit of the changes, as well as the letter of the law.

Richard Watson, Executive Director for Enforcement, said: 'We have been absolutely clear with operators about our expectations to act responsibly following the stake cut implementation this week. We have told operators to take down new products which undermine the changes, and we will investigate any other products that are not within the spirit and intention of the new rules.’

At the time of writing, at least 2 products have been removed from bookmakers following threats of investigation by the Gambling Commission.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at April 2019. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions

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