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Paying the late-night Levy for occasional use

I only trade occasional to the terminal hour on my licence - do I still pay the full fee?

Q: I have been running a busy city centre bar for the last few years. My licence permits me to sell alcohol until 1am 7 days a week. However, a decline in footfall in the town centre has meant that I rarely keep the bar open beyond 11.30pm. The one exception is perhaps one evening a month when I know that a particular group of regulars have booked in for an early meal and they are likely to stay later. The local authority have just consulted upon and agreed to introduce the Late Night Levy in our area. I have a high rateable value; therefore this will potentially cost me a lot of money. Do I have to pay it, bearing in mind that I hardly ever sell alcohol beyond midnight?

A: It is the terms of your licence which dictate whether or not you need to pay the Levy. Even if you do not use the full extent of your licence you will be liable for the Levy in accordance with your rateable value, unless you take the decision to positively amend the hours of your licence to pull back the sale of alcohol to midnight. You can do this by way of a minor variation without charge, but you do need to bear in mind that business conditions may change and it may be more difficult for you to reinstate the previous terms of your licence, especially if there is an existing Cumulative Impact Policy or indeed, the Local Authority introduces one in the future.

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