The late night levy came into force in October 2012 allowing licensing authorities to charge alcohol suppliers a levy to sell alcohol late at night (on/after midnight and ending at/before 6.00am) in the authority's area. The purpose of the levy is to use the money obtained from the charges towards extra enforcement during those hours. The licensing authority is able to retain up to 30% and the police at least 70% of the net levy revenue to fund services it provides to tackle late night alcohol-related crime and disorder and services connected to the management of the night-time economy.
Late night levy charges are prescribed nationally and range from £299 to £4,440. The charge is calculated according to rateable value and will be collected alongside the annual licence fee. There are however exemptions to the late night levy as local authorities do not wish to unfairly penalise premises which are not part of the wider night-time economy. Exemptions apply to bingo halls, country village pubs, theatres and cinemas and many more. There are also levy reductions available through the use of best practice schemes where holders whose premises participate in such schemes could benefit from a 30% reduction. We would strongly suggest that if you are affected by the late night levy that you look at the possible exemptions and reduction schemes.
Has the late night levy benefited us?
There have been over 200 levies introduced nationally. In November 2013 Newcastle became the first local authority to implement this levy on licensed premises operating between midnight and 6.00am and over the next year generated £302,942! The cost of administering this levy was £22,500 and so the net gain was a whopping £280,442. Cheltenham Borough Council introduced a similar scheme and raised £76,889.
Newcastle has around 1,174 licenced premises in total, all of which have been affected by the introduction of the new levy; it played a part in three pubs and bars shutting. The director of Regulatory Services and Public Protection introduced a ‘Raising the Bar’ best practice scheme alongside the introduction of the levy where, in return for their successful assessment, venues received a 30% discount on their levy fee, along with a gold, silver or bronze accreditation certifying their upkeep of public order, noise reduction, safety and public health. A range were granted the accreditation, with 43 venues achieving ‘gold’, 69 achieving ‘silver’ and 11 achieving ‘bronze’.
Northumbria Police has spent some of the proceeds it received on pre-planned police deployment operations, taxi marshalling and the street pastor service.
The Chronicle revealed statistics on changes in crime between April and November 2014. It noted that whilst crime was down overall by 7% compared to the same period in 2013 anti-social behaviour was up 11% with 296 more incidents. With 41 more sexual offences, a 186% increase from 2013, the question must be asked how successful has the levy been?
Has it affected us locally?
A late night levy has not yet been introduced in Norwich, but it was discussed in their Cabinet Report on 26 March 2014. It was concluded that there was a minimal return to come from the small number of licensed premises in Norwich and therefore it was decided against it.
Norwich City Council has however adopted a cumulative impact policy (CIP) aimed at reducing antisocial behaviour in Norwich’s night-time economy. It created a rebuttable presumption of the refusal to applications for new premises licences or club premises certificates, meaning that the growth of licensed premises in the area would be limited. This policy applies to premises applying for a licence, or a licence variation, to sell alcohol or late night refreshments between 9.00pm and 6.00am.
The late night levy has not been introduced in Ipswich or Cambridge but a CIP is in force. Chelmsford has however introduced the late night levy on 1 November 2014. There have been mixed opinions ranging from advantages in potential crime reductions whilst others, mainly pub owners view it as an unnecessary cost.