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EMROs/Late Night Levy / Late night / 16 May 2019

BBPA calls on Southwark and Redbridge councils to reconsider punitive levy

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has called on Southwark and Redbridge councils to reconsider their proposals to introduce Late-Night Levies (LNL) as they would be damaging for their local pubs.

Responding to recent consultations on LNLs in both Southwark and Redbridge, the BBPA has outlined its opposition to LNLs, arguing that they are in effect a direct and punitive tax on local businesses like pubs that are already disproportionately burdened with a range of taxes, business rates and other overheads. The beer and pub sector alone already pays £58.6m in tax in Southwark and £16.5m in tax in Redbridge.

The BBPA also believes that LNLs do not work effectively in addressing local late-night alcohol-related issues. This is reflective of a House of Lords committee report on the Licensing Act 2003, which assessed LNLs, finding that they “failed to achieve [their] objectives and should be abolished.”[1] Additionally, the BBPA has also noted that many local authorities and police forces have acknowledged that alcohol-related issues are not caused by the majority of licensed premises, especially pubs offering late-night entertainment in a well-managed and responsible environment.

The BBPA has therefore argued that there are far more effective local partnership models that can be used to address late-night alcohol-related issues, without damaging local businesses. For example, the use of Business Improvement Districts (BID) that enable local businesses to lead in the management of their night-time economy. Beyond this, there are a range of partnership working schemes already in place which the BBPA and wider pub sector fully support including Pubwatch, Best Bar None and Street Pastors.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, comments:

“Introducing a Late-Night Levy is a backward step for any local authority. The current Late-Night Levy framework does not work effectively in addressing local late-night alcohol-related issues. It is a tax and unfair to well-run and responsible businesses such as pubs – many of which are SMEs already struggling to get by.

“A Late-Night Levy will be a nail in the coffin for some community pubs. When business rates are the basis for the calculation, premises like pubs will pay a disproportionate share. Both Southwark and Redbridge should look at working in partnership with their late-night sector, not taxing them out of existence.”

[1] House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 (2017), The Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny

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