Southwark Council is reviewing whether to keep or scrap the late night levy, but charges for this year are still owed despite COVID-19 enforced closures.
A decision on the future of the tax on the night time economy is expected to be made by the council’s assembly by the end of the financial year, after recommendations from the licensing committee.
Introduced in 2019, 30 per cent of revenue generated from the levy goes toward the council’s work, with 70 per cent funding the police.
Any decisions would only take effect for the next levy period – from August 31, 2021, and not cover owed payments for the last year.
Around 80 businesses have amended their trading hours to avoid paying the levy and due to COVID-19, with questions over how many can afford to return to their previous licences.
However, officers are concerned a huge burst in socialising and return to normal life could leave policing teams overstretched, and with residents facing a surge in anti-social behaviour throughout the summer.
The question of whether it is fair to ask businesses to cough up cash given the sheer number of permanent closures, redundancies and dependency on the furlough scheme is one councillors will have to consider.
As the report notes, “levy payments come from business profit, which is currently lacking. Businesses will need to spend to recover and recoup recent losses.
“The levy payment could be a deciding factor as to whether or not to reopen and thus could hamper recovery.”
A total of £316,999 was received for 2019/2020, with monthly income dropping to just over a thousand in March during the lockdown.