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Firearms and shotgun licence fees set to double

With the cost of certificates having remained static since 2014, there are concerns that the latest rise will be well over that of inflation.

Waiting for the drive to start

Since last year, the Home Office has been discussing fee rises associated with firearms and shotgun licensing. The last rise in fees was in 2014. The current cost for the grant of a shotgun certificate is £79.50, while for a firearms certificate the cost is £88. 

There is speculation that the fees may rise by almost double; this would represent an increase well above the inflation rate over the past nine years. A rise in line with inflation according to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator would take shotgun and firearms certificates to around £106 and £116 respectively, not the higher figure being mooted. 

The Government has been asked why there haven’t been small incremental inflationary rises year on year rather than discussions about one enormous price hike. The Home Office has replied that under Treasury rules this is not possible. 

The proposed fee increase comes at a time when the majority of the 43 licensing authorities are providing inefficient services. 

BASC, which has been tracking the performance of all licensing departments for the past 25 years, says that only 10 of the authorities provide an acceptable service. The remainder can take up to a year to complete the licensing process, with four forces taking two years or more. 

Christopher Graffius, director of communications and public affairs at BASC, told ST: “The shooting world broadly accepts that fees should rise but only if the system is overhauled to make it efficient and as long as the rises are justified by data related to the most efficient forces – anything else rewards inefficiency.” 

BASC is seeking a 10-year certificate and a service level agreement that includes financial penalties for failure to provide an acceptable level of service. Any extension of the term of certificates depends on the successful rollout of medical health monitoring markers for licence-holders. 

Mr Graffius is also working with Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Shooting and Conservation, and Graham Downing, secretary of the British Shooting Sports Council, to advance these discussions. Mr Downing, who has been on the Firearms Fees Working Group since 2022, told ST: “I don’t feel that a large hike of fees every nine or 10 years is acceptable. I strongly feel that there should be a small annual increase in licence fees in line with inflation.”