Late Night Levy - CAMRA and BBPA joint approach - breaking news
The British Beer & Pub Association and the Campaign for Real Ale have joined forces to publish a new report on the impact of the Late Night Levy on the pub sector.
The report, ‘Supporting a safer night time economy’ urges councils and police to look instead at a partnership approach as a more effective alternative.
There are currently just seven levies in place across England, and none in Wales. In practice, some local authorities have backed away from the scheme due to partnership working being a more effective option, and the high potential cost of administering a Levy for minimal financial gain.
As an alternative to a Levy, the two bodies urge a partnership approach, such as through the establishment of local Pubwatches, Business Improvement Districts, and the Best Bar None scheme - ways of working that have been successfully pursued by a number of authorities that have specifically rejected the Levy approach.
The full report, which is available here contains a useful overview of those Levies which have been adopted, and those were they have been rejected.
The report in part concludes that in both Newcastle and Cheltenham, where a full year of levy revenue has been declared, the actual income has been much lower than originally estimated by the licensing authorities. This suggests that a large number of premises have chosen to apply for minor variations, therefore restricting their licensed hours to avoid paying the levy.
In Cheltenham the actual levy revenue was just 39% of that of the original estimate, leaving very little income for the council following the transfer of 70% of the funds to Gloucestershire Constabulary. Latest reports suggest that Cheltenham will be reviewing their levy in favour of the more effective partnership schemes highlighted in this report. If this disparity between actual and estimated levy revenue continues, it is clear that licensed premises will consider the levy as an undue tax and harmful to partnership working between the trade and authorities.
As premises use minor variations to restrict their licensed hours to those outside of which the levy operates, consumer choice in the type of drinking establishments will be reduced. Particular attention needs to be paid to the effect that a levy could have on community pubs where even the loss of a single hour of trade after midnight could impact greatly upon the personal earnings of the licensee and potentially put the trading of the pub at risk.