The Home Office has released guidance on how local authorities should set fees when issuing licences under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act (SMDA).
Local authorities in England and Wales have been given the power to set their own fees so that charges imposed in each local area match the actual costs of the process to each authority.
The guidance says that income from licence fees can only be used to pay for the costs of carrying out the licensing process and must not exceed these costs.
Local Authorities should specify different fees for each type of application including the assessment of an application for a licence, an application to vary a licence, and an application for licence renewal.
Fees should reflect the following costs:
- time spent on assessment and administration
- experience of licensing officers
- consultation on suitability of an applicant
- reviewing relevant offences
- format of licences
There are two types of licence, a site licence and a collector’s licence. Different charges can be applied to the two types to reflect any extra costs. For example, a mobile collector would need a licence for every council area in which they operate.
Authorities also need to review fees regularly to ensure that the costs remain appropriate.
The Home office says that this fee-raising power is an essential component of the legislation as it provides local authorities with the funding they need to administer the regime and ensure compliance. But licence fees cannot be used to fund enforcement activity against unlicensed scrap metal dealers.
From 1 December all scrap metal dealers will require full licences in order to carry on business. In July, MRW reported that the implementation date had been delayed by the Home Office by one month.
The act will still take effect from 1 October.
- Last month MRW reported that the Local Government Association (LGA) had been waiting for the fees guidance to be published in order to release its own guidance to help councils prepare for legislative changes caused by the SMDA.