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Late-night levy changes in store

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Capital gains: London has more than 50% of all late-night levies
Capital gains: London has more than 50% of all late-night levies

Related tags: Licensing, Public house

This year is likely to start with the arrival of another late-night levy. This time in Redbridge, where the full council will meet in a few weeks’ time to decide on adopting the levy.

This was due to take place in January but was deferred due to an administrative error.

The levy has been recommended (at the time of writing) to come into effect on 1 May 2020, with licensed operators permitted to sell alcohol under their premises licence or club certificate between 12.01am and 6am liable to the additional fee.

Generally, it is fair to say there has not been great enthusiasm for adopting a levy (if Redbridge adopts it there will be 12 councils that have one in place), within the London ‘bubble’ at least the levy has found a home.

The last three levies have been adopted by London boroughs (Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Southwark) and if Redbridge adopts it that would make it the last four. On top of that, more than half of the total number of levies adopted in England are within London (the others being City of London, Islington and Camden). There may be a myriad of reasons for this, including the concentration of licensed premises and demands on policing the night-time economy in the capital, and that in a time of reduced budgets for local authorities, in London at least, an additional revenue stream may be a temptation difficult to resist.

Outside London, the levy is more widely spread, with levies being adopted in Newcastle and Liverpool, Southampton, Chelmsford and Nottingham.

However, as we reach the eighth year since the levy came into force, the uptake from councils remains slow and some way off the 80 or so the Government had predicted. A common reason I have come across is the lack of flexibility within the power, in that it applies to all licensed premises in the council area, both within city centre hot spot areas as well as those further afield.

This may change later this year. Just like our favourite apps, the Government has already updated the levy under the Policing and Crime Act 2017 by introducing flexibility to allow councils to ‘localise’ the levy. This levy-lite can be more focused on specific areas suffering from late-night problems, as well as extending the levy to late-night refreshment premises that serve hot food beyond midnight. However, these changes have yet to come into effect, with a consultation on appropriate fees for late-night refreshment premises still required – 2020 may be the year these changes finally take effect. If so, the ‘updated’ levy is likely to result in renewed interest and with it potentially a significant rise in levies adopted across the country.

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Related topics: Licensing Hub, Licensing law

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