Following our news item of 13th October (see below) we welcome the publication of the Compliance Fee consultation by BIS.

The consultation includes the three submissions made by interested parties and comprises two questions – the first is simply whether there should be a Compliance Fee for 2014 and the second asks for comments on the methodologies and how well each proposal meets the evaluation criteria. Respondents have until the 28th November and any Compliance Fee methodology and operator approved by the Secretary of State will be announced in mid-February. Interestingly the perspective of the use of the Compliance Fee has subtly changed over the past few months from being an option within the regulations that a Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS) may choose – to one associated with ‘failure’ to meet the collection targets – a word used in recent consultations but not in the regulations. If any potential operator of the Compliance Fee is not known until mid-February it looks highly optimistic that the methodology can be put in place, payments received etc., before 31st March – the deadline for PCSs to issue their Declaration of Compliance.

The timing presents a great deal of uncertainty both to those who are hoping to benefit from their surplus evidence provided to ‘short’ PCSs (as they won’t know what the level of the short PCSs option of the Compliance Fee will be) and to those who wish to support the Compliance Fee in order to break the hold of the ‘surplus’ PCSs. Once a PCS has chosen to obtain an element of its compliance through the fee mechanism there will be no turning back to the 2014 compliance period – regardless of the level of the fee.

While B2B Compliance is not reliant on the Compliance Fee option, we will be scrutinising the consultation in the coming weeks and responding by the due date, with a summary of its response in the Members’ December Bulletin.