Lobbyists condemn government incompetence following fee hike for official register

The annual fee for registration on the Statutory Lobbying Register is to rise from £750 to £1,000, the Cabinet Office announced yesterday.

PRWeek understands the fee increase will come into force from January. The £750 fee had been introduced in February.

The 33 per cent fee increase drew condemnation from the lobbying industry and a rare joint statement from the lobbying self-regulation body APPC, and PR associations PRCA and CIPR.
The statement said the price hike was the result of "poor planning" on the part of the Cabinet Office and that its failure to attract more registrants was a contributing factor.

It said: "This cost increase, which is being introduced without effective consultation, is a direct consequence of poor planning by the Cabinet Office.

"The lobbying industry has consistently warned the Cabinet Office that its estimate of 700 third-party lobbyists joining the register was unrealistic. Currently 113 lobbyists are signed up – just 15 per cent of the Government’s estimate. As it stands, the Government does not know whether 113 is a baseline or maximum capacity for the register.

"If the annual running cost of the register was to be met by those currently registered the fees would be unreasonably high. This effectively means a self-funding register of lobbyists based on this model is unviable."
The joint statement said the exclusion of in-house lobbyists and others from the legislation had led to an ineffective register and that the industry was doing a better job of providing transparency and value for money to the public regarding its activities.

The statement continued: "The lobbying industry supports the Government’s stated ambition to increase the transparency of lobbying, but the current register will never be effectively self-funding. A financially unsustainable and ineffective register risks failing the public and Parliament."

The APPC has previously criticised the registrar's lack of clarity.

The Cabinet Office was contacted but was not immediately available for comment.

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