The levy was first introduced to the city in 2017 and in November last year, the council’s licensing and gambling committee decided to go out to consultation to seek views on whether or not the levy should continue or if amendments should be made.
The amount is set by the Government and is a yearly amount between £299 and £4,440 dependent on the rateable value of the property and its use.
Legal expert Poppleston Allen partner James Anderson said: “Liverpool’s decision to consult on removing the late-night levy is a welcome act of support for the hospitality trade in the city.
“Times are challenging and levies have been controversial not only because they are an additional cost to late-night operators but of questionable practical use in raising revenue.
“Liverpool has a vibrant late-night economy and has also recently removed its saturation zone and so is sending a strong message the city welcomes and appreciates its late-night economy.”
Trade body UKHospitality (UKH) called for the city to abolish the levy as it continues to burden the sector with more costs at a time when businesses are being hit hard by rocketing energy prices and recruitment issues.
UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said Liverpool was one of the UK’s most vibrant cities with hospitality being at the centre of its offering.
She added: “It has been incredibly frustrating to see a needless levy prove to be such a burden for businesses, particularly nightclubs and other late-night venues.
“The decision by Liverpool City Council to consult on removal of the levy is a positive step and follows in the footsteps of other areas such as Nottingham and Cheltenham, which have removed the levies.”
Nicholls warned of the impact the levy has on firms in the hospitality industry and the city as a whole.
Potentially fatal impact
“At a time of extreme inflation and staffing challenges, continuing a levy that took more than £365,000 from the industry last year could prove to be fatal for some businesses,” the UKH boss added.
“Many are still recovering from the pandemic, where the late-night sector was one of the few unable to trade at all and are now dealing with soaring energy costs.
“To make matters worse, it is stifling the sector’s growth in the city, disincentivising openings and depriving Liverpool of even more superb venues opening. This is such a shame and unfortunately, what we predicted would happen when levies were first introduced.”
The trade body continued its calls on the Government to remove levies alongside other measures to benefit licensing including removal of the newspaper advertising requirement for new premises licences.
Nicholls said: “All licensing and related policies should reflect the economic and social benefits hospitality premises bring to local areas.”
Earlier this year (September), Nottingham scrapped its late-night levy to “reduce the burden” on operators and remove costs that could be a barrier to incoming and growing businesses.