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Calls to scrap 'unnecessary' late-night levy as curfew hits trade

27 October 2020 by
Calls to scrap 'unnecessary' late-night levy as curfew hits trade

Hospitality trade bodies are calling on the government to freeze a tax on late-night venues, as many businesses are still being charged despite having to close at 10pm.

UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping say the levy is "completely unnecessary" and is causing venues to "bleed money", while some have been unable to reopen.

Some councils charge a tax on sites open after midnight to cover costs of night-time economy services, such as extra policing and street cleaning.

The trade bodies say that under current legislation local authorities are not permitted to cancel or freeze payments for late-night levies.

They have written to crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse to request the government intervene and are calling for businesses to be refunded for the time they have been closed.

A joint spokesperson said: "With businesses mandated to close at 10pm and with many late-night premises still unable to reopen at all, there is no way the late-night levy is justified. A tax that was spurious at the best of times is completely unnecessary and potentially very harmful in the midst of this crisis.

"This has been acknowledged by some local authorities and we have had pragmatic discussions about how late-night hospitality and pubs can be supported. Unfortunately, as the powers are set under national legislation, late-night levy payments cannot be frozen or cancelled.

"We need the government to act on this issue as a matter of urgency. Late-night venues are either closed altogether or operating at a fraction of their normal revenue. All the while, they continue to bleed money.

"The Home Office must recognise that the levy no longer applies when much of the sector is still closed and those that are open cannot do so after 10pm in England, or at all in Wales currently. Local authorities must be given the power to cancel levy payments. That is the first step. We then need confirmation that businesses will receive a refund for fees that they have been forced to pay, even though they were closed."

The late-night sector has been hit hard by the pandemic and many businesses still have no set reopening date.

A recent survey by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents 1,200 bars, clubs, casinos and music venues, found more than 80% of its members will have to lay off staff when the furlough scheme ends.

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