BASC questions Labour statement on firearms fees

The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), which has a membership of over 140,000, has questioned the Labour Party’s policy on raising the fees for firearms licenses announced today.

As part of its Crime and Justice Manifesto the Labour Party signalled that it wanted to “end the police subsidy of gun licenses”. 

In fact, firearms licence fees increased on 6 April 2015. 

The new fees, which were agreed by a Home Office working group, which included the police, BASC and the British Shooting Sports Council, are compliant with Treasury guidelines and the principles of better regulation introduced by the last Labour government. They were set after a detailed examination of police costs and processes.

They provide full cost recovery under e-commerce, including an online payments system, being introduced by the police.

The fee for the grant of a shotgun certificate has increased from £50 to £79.50 with proportionate increases in other fees. A shotgun renewal will cost £49. The grant of a firearms certificate is £88 with the renewal set at £62.

BASC Chairman Alan Jarrett said: “The introduction of new fees this week marked a successful conclusion of discussions with the police and the government which began more than two years ago. We had previously explained this to Labour spokespeople and we wrote to Ed Balls in January to explain the situation. We were therefore surprised and puzzled by today’s announcement from the Labour Party to again increase gun licensing fees on the premise of eradicating a subsidy that does not exist. We fear that imposing a tax on shooting will result in unintended consequences, harming economic activity, conservation and people’s well-being.”

BASC Chief Executive Richard Ali said: “We have always said that firearms licence fees should be set according to Treasury Guidelines.  To set fees above cost recovery not only breaks Treasury rules it may go against the European Services Directive.  This states that any licensing fees charged must be reasonable and proportionate to the costs of the licensing scheme and must not exceed the cost of those procedures and formalities. BASC is happy to work with the Labour Party to resolve those issues.”

Notes to editors:
•    Shooting is worth £2 billion annually (GVA) to the UK economy.
•    People who shoot spend £2.5 billion each year on goods and services, bringing income into rural areas, particularly in the low-season for tourism.  This is almost 10% of the total amount spent on outdoor recreation in a year.
•    Shooting supports the equivalent of 74,000 full-time jobs.
•    Shooting is involved in the management of two-thirds of the UK’s rural land area.
•    Almost two million hectares are actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting.
•    Nearly £250 million a year is spent on conservation and habitat management which benefits a wide range of wildlife.
•    People who shoot put in 3.9 million work days on conservation every year – the equivalent of 16,000 full-time conservation jobs.
•    97% of people say shooting improves their well-being.

Source: The Value of Shooting. Public and Corporate Economic Consultants (PACEC) 2014

For more information, contact the BASC press office on 01244 573052.