British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds (pictured) has described a 480% fee hike proposal from PPL as “eye-watering” in a climate where licensees already face significant cost pressures. The rises apply to its Specially Featured Entertainment (SFE) tariff, the licence that covers the playing of music in pubs, bars and clubs.
Simmonds said:“We are extremely disappointed that PPL are proposing such eye-watering increases to their Specially Featured Entertainment (SFE) tariff which covers pubs, clubs and other venues that put on discos and DJ events for customers. The consultation proposes a possible 480% increase – from 3.8p per person per hour to 22p per person per hour. This would be on top of proposed structural changes that could more than double this figure, will simply not be viable for many licensees at a time when pubs are already facing major cost pressures in terms of increasing taxes and other regulatory costs. Whilst we welcome discussions on ensuring fairness and clarity in how the tariff is calculated and if improvements can be made to deliver this, we believe that these discussions must take place first and any impact considered further before there are proposals for cost increases.
She continued, “As PPL note in the consultation document, the SFE tariff is already increased annually by the Retail Price Index (RPI). Of course, RPI itself is now a discredited measure of inflation, but the use of this measure will have seen the SFE tariff increase by over 50% since 2003. This is compared to a 38% increase in the Consumer Price Index, the official measure of inflation, during this period. We are grateful for the dialogue and engagement we have had with PPL on this issue over the last year, but see no justification for further increases in the tariff at this time and we will be responding accordingly.”
In the consultation paper, PPL argues that the price hikes are justified because the current tariff is 30 years old and doesn’t treat all licensees the same way and that “aspects of the current tariff can be complicated and confusing to apply and so can lead to licensees (whether by accident or design) failing to report correctly under the tariff.”