Legal advice: clauses on the way for levy and CIPs

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Changes: Poppleston Allen outline the new amendments
Changes: Poppleston Allen outline the new amendments

Related tags Cumulative impact

Legal experts Poppleston Allen explain the amendments to the late-night levy provisions and cumulative impact policies.

Changes to the Policing and Crime Bill have recently been tabled in parliament and are due to be debated in mid-October. These changes will see clauses introduced to amend the late-night levy provisions and to place cumulative impact policies on a statutory footing.

Late-night levy

The proposals will seek to make the late-night levy​ more flexible, allowing authorities to introduce the levy in, for example, specific parts of a town rather than having to introduce it for the whole of the local authority area as is the case currently.

There will be greater transparency, however, with licensing authorities being required to publish information on how the funds raised by the levy are spent.

One of the key changes is that the levy will be extended to also apply to premises that are permitted to offer late-night refreshment, for example, takeaways (the levy currently only applies to premises selling alcohol). Premises only serving hot non-alcoholic drinks are excluded.

We could see existing levy areas become more geographically focused on the perceived source of late-night problems, be that a single street or part of town but, equally, authorities which have not yet bitten the levy bullet may be encouraged now to do so given the more flexible nature of the powers that will be made available to them.

Ultimately, the changes will mean that more premises can be caught and liable to pay the levy should an authority decide to introduce one.

Cumulative impact assessments

The proposals seek to put cumulative impact policies​ on a statutory footing, the stated aim being to ensure that there is both legal certainty and transparency for all parties involved in the licensing application process (eg. the applicant, the licensing authority and the other responsible authorities).

The changes do not mean that all licensing authorities will have to consider a cumulative impact policy (CIP), but instead that where they do consider it, they should conduct an assessment and set out the evidence showing why they have decided to introduce a CIP.

An authority that publishes a cumulative impact assessment will be required to review it every three years. Again the stated purpose is that authorities will have to ensure that the information they are using is up to date and so, for example, if an area is no longer a problem in theory, it should be removed from any CIP area.

A lot is left to the statutory guidance. For example, the kinds of evidence that may be used and how robust, up to date and relevant that evidence is.

I will be looking for direct causality to the problems complained of, locally based evidence rather than generic data and a formal recognition that the purpose of CIPs is not to cryogenically freeze the status quo at the expense of responsible, well-run and imaginative new licensed businesses. But then I was always an optimist.

Related topics Licensing law

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