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Council to keep late night levy despite consultation responses calling for scheme to be ditched Published Date: 26/02/2023

Liverpool City Council has resolved to continue with its Late Night Levy, noting that it represents a "valuable source of income" for initiatives targeting problems associated with the late-night economy.

According to reports by the Local Government Lawyer, The council's Licensing and Gambling Committee took the decision despite conducting a consultation which found the majority of respondents were in favour of scrapping the levy.

Liverpool's levy was introduced under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and applies to all premises licensed to supply alcohol at any time between midnight and 6 am on one or more days of the year.

In response to a review of the levy, councillors noted that since its introduction, the portion of the net levy funds that go to the council had funded 100 knife detector wands, CCTV upgrades, 'Taxi Marshall' funding, street cleansing, and 2000 test kits for spiked drinks.

Councillors also noted that the levy had funded a campaign to encourage revellers to drink less alcohol and a publicity campaign for the council's late-night transport programme over Christmas.

The council considered three options moving forward: cessation of the levy, variation of the levy, or no change to the levy. 

Council officers reported that the general view of respondents to its consultation was that the levy should cease, but noted that the consultation responses should be weighed against the consequences of ending the programme, including the impact on funding available to deal with the costs of dealing with the alcohol-related problems associated with the late night economy.

They noted that it is possible that the removal of the levy "could lead to an increase in premises seeking to open later at night with a potential increase in crime and antisocial behaviour.

Members responding to the review added that scrapping the levy would lead to a greater impact on the police as the police force receives 70% of the net levy income.

The minutes from the meeting noted: "The consensus view of the Committee was that, whilst not unsympathetic to the problems faced by the hospitality industry, the levy provided a valuable source of income for resourcing useful initiatives targeted at mitigating the problems that flowed from the late night supply of alcohol in the city.

"The City Council could not afford at the current time to lose this income as it would mean the likely cessation of such initiatives which benefitted the public good. Whilst there may be scope in the future for considering variations to the design of the levy now was not the right time to do so."

Liverpool's decision contrasts with a decision by Nottingham City Council last year to abandon its own levy. Nottingham shelved its levy in a move to reduce the financial burden on the hospitality sector following the pandemic.

Source: Local Government Lawyer