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Alcohol licence fee increases in Scotland

Published:  23 July, 2008

Scottish convenience stores could face a 667% increase in alcohol licensing fees under changes announced by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill earlier this week.

The fees were described as "staggering" by the Scottish Grocers' Federation (SGF).

The changes are designed to allow local licensing boards for the first time to set fees at a level that allows them to recoup the full cost of running the system.

Fee income currently only meets 63% of costs, the Scottish Government said.

MacAskill commented: "I don't think it's fair that the taxpayer has to subsidise the cost of providing a licensing service."

But the new fees have been capped, based on the rateable value of the premises selling alcohol.

The maximum annual fee for a typical c-store with a rateable value of up to 11,500 has been set at 220 - a 667% increase on the previous fee of 86 for three years.

On top of that, they would have to pay a one-off maximum 800 fee on applying for a licence.

SGF chief executive John Drummond said: "We were taken aback by the announcement of the fees structure. They are precisely double the proposals that were put forward in consultation.

"Until very recently, insiders were saying there would be no surprises, except perhaps an extra level of charges for supermarkets, who we believe can afford it, and it would reflect the level of business the multiples are doing on alcohol, and would be seen to be fair.

"To give the licensing boards the opportunity to charge up to the level that they have is quite staggering."