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Late Night Levies

What does the future hold?

Four years have now passed since licensing authorities were able to introduce a Late Night Levy (LNL). This provides the authority with the power to raise revenue for the costs of policing the night time economy in the area for which it is responsible between midnight and 06:00. 70% of the revenue raised must be allocated to the police, with 30% or less retained by the local authorities.

So far only nine of 350 local authorities in England and Wales have adopted a LNL. Newcastle was the first in November 2013. Cheltenham introduced the LNL in 2014 but recently abandoned the scheme in favour of a Business Improvement District (BID). A further thirteen local authorities issued consultations about the introduction of a LNL, but did not subsequently introduce one.

Since their inception many operators of licensed premises have viewed LNLs as an additional tax and source of revenue for local authorities, and not fit for purpose.

This was evident in Cheltenham as the LNL only collected £76,889 in its first year, less than half of the anticipated £199,000. The introduction of a BID appears a much fairer alternative to a LNL, as everyone needs to pay into it, including supermarkets, takeaways and shops rather than just late night licensed premises.

However, LNLs have been given support from some local authorities and police forces.

The latest local authority to have implemented the LNL is Liverpool City Council which took effect from 1st April 2017. A legal challenge was launched against the decision by Pub Invest Group Ltd, one of Liverpool’s biggest nightlife companies. The appeal argued the decision was based on a flawed consultation process and the irrational actions of the Council. This challenge was subsequently dismissed but another legal challenge, this time in Tower Hamlets resulted in that Council pulling its proposed implementation date of 1 June.  A re-launched consultation seeks a reintroduction of the LNL on 1 January 2018.

With some licensing authorities looking at alternatives such as BIDs and with the House of Lords Select Committee within their report on the Licensing Act 2003 recommending that LNLs should be repealed or at the very least reviewed, the future of LNLs is uncertain.

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