The Cabinet Office has published a consultation outlining the proposed structure of the charges that will be faced by public affairs practitioners as the register of lobbyists is implemented.
The proposed charge structure comprises an “application processing charge”, an “information return processing charge”, and an “annual maintenance charge”.
The three elements will be rolled into one flat-fee which will will apply to all firms, irrespective of turnover.
The consultation document states that the new system “will complement… the industry’s existing self-regulatory regime” and adds that the Cabinet Office “… expects that the Registrar will wish to engage with interested stakeholders regarding the practicalities of launching the register and the content of the guidance on compliance.”
Commenting on the draft regulations, Director General of the Public Relations Consultants Association Francis Ingham said:
“Is this suggestion of a flat fee to those on the Register really an appropriate way of charging consultancies if the price risks being prohibitively high? Do the questions being asked on procedure properly recognise our significant transparency regime already in place? Is there contingency in place if a vast number of third parties lobbyists state that they will not be captured by the Register because the definition is so inadequate?The time to make our case – in this instance, on a precise and every day level – is now.”
The draft regulations are available in full here. The consultation closes on 17 October.