Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced a reduction in fees for the renewal of entertainment licences to alleviate the hardship being experienced by the industry as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
The move could save hundreds of venues, which have been forced to close their doors to the public, between £50 and £2,000.
Minister Hargey explained: “Towards the end of last year, I was contacted by one of the trade bodies for the hospitality industry, seeking a reduction in the cost of renewal fees for entertainment licenses. The industry has been unable to provide entertainment for almost a year now, due to Covid-19 restrictions, and a reduction in these costs will help to alleviate hardship being experienced by many businesses.
“I have listened to the concerns of the hospitality industry and of local councils on this issue I have decided to introduce a nominal fee of £1 for renewal applications only, for all categories of entertainment licence, with effect from 6 April 2021.
“The reduction will remain in place for the duration of the 2021/2022 financial year and will be subject to review early next year to determine whether there is a need to extend the measure beyond this period. This temporary easement directly addresses the issue of costs to businesses and applies some consistency across all council areas.”
The Department will recompense councils for the loss of income as a result of a reduction in fees for the renewal of entertainment licences – estimated to be £700,000.
For 2020/21 the Executive has allocated £85.3m to DfC to support local councils in respect of lost income due to closure of leisure, arts and culture facilities, car parking, and licensing/enforcement, together with the costs of responding to the Covid-19 emergency.
Notes to editors:
- Most entertainment licences issued to premises by councils cover the maximum allowable period of 1 year. Most licence holders choose to renew it annually to ensure they have a valid licence in force at all times. Given the unpredictability around Covid-19 restrictions during 2020, many businesses chose to ensure their licence remained current throughout the year.
- On 10 February the Department made a determination of fees for entertainment licences under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 which gives effect to the introduction of a nominal fee of £1 for renewal applications only, for all categories of entertainment licence from 6 April 2021. Details can be found on the Department’s website:
- Some councils have already introduced measures in relation to the renewal of entertainment licences in order to alleviate some of the difficulties for businesses resulting from Covid-19 restrictions. These include allowing the deferral of fees, suspending the requirement to advertise applications in the local press, and extending the period for which existing licences remain in force.
- Entertainment licences are required for events including theatrical performances, music, sports contests etc. They are granted by local councils. The fee is determined by DfC. The fee payable with the application varies according to the capacity of the venue and the type of licence applied for, with reduced fees for applications from voluntary organisations.
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- The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
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