Late Night Levy: No exemption for restaurants as pub owners declare it 'unnecessary'

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Late night levy, Drinking culture, Binge drinking

The Home Office has published its response to the consultation on the Late Night Levy - there will be discounts for BIDs and best practice schemes but no exemption for restaurants
The Home Office has published its response to the consultation on the Late Night Levy - there will be discounts for BIDs and best practice schemes but no exemption for restaurants
The Home Office has published its response to a consultation on the proposed Late Night Levy with legislation expected later this year which will not exempt restaurants and which pub and bar licensees have declared 'unnecessary'.

The Government committed to overhaul the 2003 Licensing Act in its coalition agreement and in turn tackle problems caused by alcohol.

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act was passed last year and will be implemented through a late night levy (LNL) on businesses contributing to and profiting from the night-time economy and late night drinking.

A 12-week consultation on the LNL and early morning alcohol restriction orders (EMROs) closed in April and the Home Office has now published its response.

In it the Government has conceded to calls to allow local licensing authorities to give Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) or best practice schemes discounts​ from the levy. 75 per cent of respondents to the consultation had called for discounts to be available.

However it will be up to the discretion of individual authorities if these discounts are given and there will be no exemption for restaurants. 

Unwieldy

"There are real doubts that this legislation is necessary," Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said of the response.

"A Government that says it wants to cut red tape still has to match words with deeds. There are already enough powers for police and local authorities to tackle late-night problems. The Levy still has the potential to be complex, unwieldy and problematic," she added.

Lord Henley, the Minister for crime prevention and antisocial behaviour reduction, said the measures would help local communities 'reclaim their high streets'. 

"We are building on this through the Government’s new alcohol strategy which sets out plans to crack down on the 'binge drinking' culture, end the availability of cheap alcohol and irresponsible drinks promotions, and slash the number of people drinking excessively," he added.

Restaurants

Best practice schemes and BIDs will be able to get a discount if they meet relevant criteria including working to reduce alcohol-related crime. New Year's Eve will automatically be included as a discretionary exemption but restaurants will not get a discount or exemption.

The Home Office argued that any exemption would have been difficult to implement and gastro-pubs might have also been able to avoid the levy if an exemption was applied.

"Restaurants that supply alcohol after midnight are usually those which operate throughout the night and can serve as a terminal point in the night-time economy," the Home Office response said.

Cardiff

The levy will be collected annually and divided between licensing authorities and the police. The respondents to the consultation said that the proportion retained by the authorities should be used to fund 'booze buses', cleaning up streets and graffiti or marshals and signs relating to the night-time economy.

Speaking to BigHospitality for a feature highlighting Cardiff​, and the boost the night-time economy has on the Welsh capital, Nick Newman, chair of the Cardiff Licensees Forum, said businesses already worked with the council and licensing authorities.

"It is unnecessary and will be an extra burden on small businesses in particular. We do a lot of the things the Late Night Levy would pay for already voluntarily. Over the past 13 years in Cardiff along with the local authorities we have helped to make the city one of the safest of its kind in the UK," he said.

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