PPL’s new SFE tariff to ‘cost sector £49m’: Music licensing company PPL’s new specially featured entertainment (SFE) tariff, which comes into effect on 1 July, could be the final straw for the UK’s hard-pressed music venues, trade bodies have said. UKHospitality said the new tariff, which relates to playing recorded music in public at nightclubs, pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels, could cost the sector £49m.

The new tariff follows a three-month consultation and will include changes such as the fee increasing in direct proportion to the size of the audience (measured in bands of 25 people); and two new, smaller tariff bands for SFE events with attendances of one to 25 and 26 to 50 people. There will be a phased introduction of increased fees during a five-year period from July based on an initial rate of 4p per person per hour (a rise of 0.1p from the current rate). This would move to 9p per person per hour by 2023, subject to annual indexation. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This new tax will see venues hit with an average 130% increase, which we estimate will cost the hospitality sector upwards of £49m. Music plays an enormous role in our lives culturally and socially as well as economically, but extra fees such as PPL’s will only wring the last life out of venues.

UKHospitality has been in discussions with PPL and repeatedly highlighted the problems this new tariff would lead to. We had some success in avoiding proposed structural changes but it is disappointing to see them ignore our warnings and push ahead with a hike.” Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “We are extremely disappointed by PPL’s decision to raise the tariff on the SFE licence by 130% on average. For the past 18 months we have been in discussions with PPL and have highlighted how the changes proposed to the tariff would be disproportionate and unwarranted.” London Union co-founder Jonathan Downey tweeted: “This is a massive issue for us. On top of ridiculous rates hikes, we’re now faced with extortionate fee increases from a monopoly body. Last year, we paid £31,500 to PPL. This year, they want £104,000. We’re not going to pay this. We’ve cut DJs at all venues. Everyone loses.”

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