UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping have written to the Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse MP to call on the Government to support hospitality businesses and pubs still required to pay the late-night levy.
Night-time economy businesses including pubs in those areas with a late-night levy have continued to be liable for the tax throughout the Covid crisis. This is despite the fact that many have been completely closed since March, and those that have reopened are operating under the mandatory 10pm curfew.
Under current legislation, local authorities are not permitted to cancel or freeze payments for late night levies.
The trade bodies have asked the Government to give them the power to do so, and called for confirmation that businesses will receive refunds for payments made while they were closed or unable to operate as late-night businesses.
A joint spokesperson said: “With businesses mandated to close at 10pm and with many late-night premises still unable to reopen at all, there is no way the late-night levy is justified. A tax that was spurious at the best of times, is completely unnecessary and potentially very harmful in the midst of this crisis.
“This has been acknowledged by some local authorities and we have had pragmatic discussions about how late-night hospitality and pubs can be supported. Unfortunately, as the powers are set under national legislation, late-night levy payments cannot be frozen or cancelled.
“We need the Government to act on this issue as a matter of urgency. Late-night venues are either closed altogether or operating at a fraction of their normal revenue. All the while, they continue to bleed money.
“The Home Office must recognise that the levy no longer applies when much of the sector is still closed and those that are open cannot do so after 10pm in England, or at all in Wales currently. Local authorities must be given the power to cancel levy payments.
"That is the first step. We then need confirmation that businesses will receive a refund for fees that they have been forced to pay, even though they were closed.”