Part 2 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 provides Licensing Authorities in England and Wales with the power to introduce a “late night levy” in their areas to contribute towards the cost of policing the late night economy.
If an Authority decides to implement the levy, then a charge is levied on those premises licence holders who are entitled to serve alcohol between midnight and 6.00 am, subject to some exemptions. The proceeds of the levy are shared between the licensing authority and the police and should be used to fund initiatives for tackling alcohol-related crime and disorder and the provision of services for managing the night time crowds. The amount of levy payable is prescribed by the Government and will depend upon the rateable value of the premises.
It is fair to say that the levy has produced mixed reactions. Critics of the scheme point out that the levy is paid by all licensed premises in the area including those that are “low risk” properties, for example, hotel bars which could mean that premises with a good track record with no premises reviews or police involvement would still be liable to pay. The authority does have discretion to exempt certain premises but this only applies to certain categories of premises, such as theatres and community premises.
Others point to the fact that the costs of the business rates for central bars and clubs are already substantial and that the additional sums due through the levy will place further financial pressure on them.
In order to introduce the late night levy a Licensing Authority must conduct a consultation within its area and we have seen a gradual increase in the number of local authorities who are considering whether or not this is a measure that they want to introduce the levy, with some mixed results.
Newcastle City Council was the first authority to introduce the levy and the levy came into effect in Newcastle City Centre on 1 November 2013. At the time of writing the levy has been considered by the following local authorities:
Click here to view table.
On the other hand, supporters of the scheme welcome what they see as a contribution from those who benefit from being able to serve alcohol late at night towards the costs of policing the night time economy and cleaning up after what is often well publicised antisocial behaviour.
It is clear that the power to introduce the levy has been met with a mixed response, with more than a handful of local authorities deciding not to introduce the measure. We recommend that you monitor developments in your local area to identify whether or not this is something which your local council is considering introducing and, if it is, participating in the consultation process to ensure that your point of view is considered.