BBPA urges Cheltenham to abolish late-night levy

open late sign

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has urged Cheltenham Borough Council to abolish its late-night levy because it unfairly disadvantages pubs and bars.

In a detailed response to the council’s consultation on repealing the levy, the BBPA outlined how a late-night levy is a tax on local business which unfairly disadvantages pubs and bars because many are small, independently-run businesses that contribute positively to the night-time economy.

The association believes that the levy has failed to bring in expected revenue targets for the council and that funds collected from pubs and bars have not been reinvested in the right way.

Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Cheltenham implemented a late-night levy in 2014, but it has found that it has failed to reach expected revenue targets, raising less than 39 per cent of the £199,000 figure that had been predicted in the first year. It is right, therefore, that they look again at the Levy.

“Small businesses like pubs contribute to the levy, but the funds collected are not reinvested to tackle the particular problems that these small businesses face. Local pubs are already struggling with high business rates, other taxes and red tape and don’t need this extra tax.

“We will continue to oppose late-night levies, campaigning against them wherever they are proposed. We’ve already seen several big city councils, such as Leeds and Bristol, abandon their late-night levy plans, and it’s encouraging to see that Cheltenham is looking to do the same.”

Instead, the BBPA is offering its support for the Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) scheme. It says that under the scheme, financial contributions are spread across businesses of all types, reducing the burden on pubs and helping to ensure a more targeted allocation of funds, while working closely in partnership with local councils to make a real difference to town centres.

The BBPA’s submission to the Cheltenham consultation represents the latest in a long line of comprehensive, evidence-led responses to late-night levy consultations the organisation has submitted since 2013. The BBPA has recently opposed levy plans by the London Borough of Camden, and voiced concerns over Liverpool City Council’s decision to implement a levy after its Licensing Committee rejected the proposal earlier in the year.

The BBPA will continue to oppose the introduction of late-night levies, and instead champion BIDs and other partnership schemes, such as Pubwatch and Best Bar None.

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