What is licensing?
We all think we know what licensing is, and yet despite all Scrap metal dealers, Motor Salvage Operators and collectors having to pay hundreds of pounds, and in some cases thousands of pounds to buy a compulsory license, do we actually know what we are spending our hard earned electronic transfers on?
Even the BMRA seem to publicly show their ignorance when they mention licensing. We were outraged recently to hear their proposal to have licensing transferred from Local Councils and given to the Environment Agency to finance the fight against metal theft. Err , we don’t think so! Under the EU directive that would be illegal, and here’s why.
Under the Scrap Metal dealers Act 2013 , authority was given to Local Authorities to license the new Act. In section 2 it states that there are two licenses – a Site licence ( which applies to scrap yards and ATF’s) and a collectors licence .
It also states that Local Authorities have to decide how much it will cost each site and collector in their area. Under the EU Directive for Licensing, councils CAN NOT MAKE A PROFIT OUT OF LICENSING. Shocked? It is hard to understand how some Councils can give a licence to an ATF for £230 and in other parts of the country it is £1520 for exactly the same service – For that is what they are providing – A service to us.
These figures are not supposed to be invented, a figure plucked out of thin air. Local Authorities are suppose to sit down and work out how much it costs to licence your business, make visits, keep your records safe, record checks they have carried out etc. However, many Councils are abusing their positions by claiming that the cost of your licence is a certain price which includes the cost of 3 checks to your premises during the life of that 3 year licence. They charge us licensees, for that service. And here’s the crux , how many actually bother to provide that service we have paid for? How many times do they actually visit?
Birmingham City Council are the most expensive licensing authority in the country for Scrap metal dealers and ATF’s at a whooping £1522 for a 3 year licence and yet many of the sites contacted claim they have NEVER had a visit since they paid for their licence back in 2013. That is an over payment of over £2700 since 2013 for a service they paid for and didn’t receive.
The problem for the Local Authorities is that they must record their findings for every site visit that they carry out. A simple freedom of information request can force them to disclose your personal information that they hold, which will contain those site visit findings if they took place. You as licensees are entitled to know how the cost of your licence is worked out. It is your right in law to receive a breakdown if asked for– yet almost everyone just pays up without finding out what it is you are receiving for that fee. It doesn’t cost £1522 for an A4 piece of paper they call a licence.
Birmingham City Council claim they do 3 site visits, yet their breakdown shows they are charging for 4 , however in the sites many still complain that they have never had a site visit.
What you can do if you have been overcharged for a service you did not receive?
If you are a member of our Association you can contact us free of charge and we will endeavour to get your licensee over-payment returned. To date this year alone we have managed to recover nearly quarter of a million pounds in over charges for sites and collectors from councils that tried to pull a fast one. You can of course do the leg work yourself and demand that you be given the information as to the cost and working outs of your licensing, the number of visits you have received and a copy of their findings and then ask for your refund. It isn’t going to cause trouble with your licensing officer, it is you consumer right to know what you are paying for. They are public servants working in public office, to serve you. Any errors need to be reported so that they can make an amendment; after all they don’t want misfeasance or fraud to occur anymore than licensee’s do.
It should also be pointed out that the EU directive that was mentioned above also absolutely forbids councils from using your money to pay for them to police illegal sites – and rightly so. It would be outrageous for law abiding sites to have to finance the policing of illegal sites when the directive states that the money is available for councils out of their central funds to police illegal enterprises.
If you’d like to become a member or have issues with your Local Authority, we pride our Association on being the most proactive in helping our members. firstname.lastname@example.org