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On 09 January this year, the Government initiated a much overdue consultation on the late night levy charges that will be applicable to premises that provide late night refreshment in England & Wales. The consultation will run until the 03 April 2023 and is open to any member of the public.

As per the Licensing Act, a premises provides the facility of late night refreshments if ‘at any time between the hours of 11:00 pm and 5:00 am, he supplies hot food or hot drink to members of the public, or a section of the public, on or from any premises, whether for consumption on or off the premises.’ Therefore, this consultation primarily affects takeaway food outlets and night cafes.

The late night levy was first introduced in 2012 and gives licensing authorities a discretionary power to charge premises, that benefit from the sale of alcohol between 12:00 am and 6:00 am, an additional annual fee. The funds raised are then split 70:30 between the police and the licensing authority and are put towards the cost of managing the night-time economy. Currently, if licensing authorities wish to introduce a levy it must be applied to their whole local area.

At present, only nine licensing authorities in England and Wales have implemented the levy, with Liverpool currently considering removing it. Since its implementation, a handful of councils have introduced and then subsequently scrapped the scheme, opting for a more flexible solution through the facility of a Business Improvement District (BID).

Section 142 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017

In 2017, in order to make the levy scheme more flexible and increase revenue to local authorities, the Government pledged to reform it with the introduction of Section 142 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, which proposed a number of changes to assist the scheme. At present, the levy only impacts premises that sell alcohol, however, once Section 142 has been implemented, it will give licensing authorities the power to charge a levy to late night refreshment venues too.

Prior to these changes being applied, the Government needs to first consult on the level of charge for premises providing late night refreshment. Once in operation though, the changes would provide the following:

  • Give police and crime commissioners the right to request that a licensing authority formally propose a levy.
  • Require licensing authorities to publish information about how the funds raised from the levy are being spent.
  • Give licensing authorities the ability to impose the levy only in places where they place demands on police resources.
  • Option to charge only premises licensed to sell alcohol, or to premises licensed to sell alcohol and premises licensed to sell late night refreshment.

Under the current late night levy scheme, premises are charged an additional fee according to the rateable value of their premises, with a multiplier being applied to premises in band D and E that are used primarily or exclusively for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises. This is to ensure that large venues are making a higher contribution towards the levy.

Proposed new charges for late night refreshment venues

The proposal now seeks to decide what charges would be most suitable for late night refreshment (LNR) premises. The options being proposed for the charges are as follows:

Option 1: Base LNR levy charges on the current licence fee system as for alcohol venues, with no option for licensing authorities to apply a discount.

Option 2: Base LNR levy charges on the current licence fee system as for alcohol venues, with the option for licensing authorities to offer a 30% discount to LNR premises qualifying for the Small Business Rate Relief.

There are premises that will be exempt from the levy depending on their category. A full list can be found here: Consultation: late night levy -Exemptions from the levy

At the end of the consultation period, the Government will analyse responses received and will then publish its findings explaining the Government’s final policy intentions on GOV.UK.

Further details on the consultation and how to respond can be found here: Consultation: late night levy

Please note that this information is for general guidance only and should not substitute professional legal advice. If you have specific concerns, we recommend consulting one of our legal experts.


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