Sheffield councillors criticise plans for late night levy which would see city’s clubs and bars taxed
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Councils have the power to introduce a late night levy after a change in the law in 2011, giving local authorities the power to charge an additional tax on premises which serve alcohol between midnight and 6am, such as bars and nightclubs.
The levy would be used to ensure businesses which profit by selling alcohol in the night-time economy contribute to the costs of additional policing, rather than relying on other taxpayers to bear the full costs.
Sheffield Green councillors had proposed spending £50,000 on a feasibility study into the proposals to learn more about whether the levy would work in the city centre and what the impact would be on clubs and bars that open late.
However, Labour objected to the proposals as councillors met to agree the financial budget for Sheffield City Council. Labour’s spokesperson for Economic Development in Sheffield, councillor Ben Miskell said it will “run down our city centre and drive away business and investment”.
Coun Miskell (Lab) said: “I am concerned about the Green’s proposal to introduce a night time levy – a regressive tax on our night time economy in Sheffield. This tax will inevitably be passed onto citizens who are spending their hard-earned cash in restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
“Because of the way the law is set up only 30 per cent of the income raised from this levy can be used by the council. In a cost-of-living crisis, with everyone struggling, including hospitality venues themselves, now is certainly not the time to back a misguided additional tax that will have a negative impact on trade, footfall, people’s back pockets and jobs in this city.”
Coun Peter Price (Lab), ward councillor for Shiregreen and Brightside added: “People come to the city to enjoy it and to introduce a levy will be the one thing that kills it off. We must be very careful as there’s massive investment in the city centre. The night time economy is a big part of Sheffield’s wider economy. It employs thousands of people, keeps our taxi drivers in work and works right through the night.”
City ward Green councillor Douglas Johnson, chair of Housing Policy, said the City ward has the “highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in Sheffield”, and that the study would allow them to see whether the levy would benefit the city centre.
Coun Johnson said: “The night-time economy is really important for Sheffield, both for businesses and for residents, especially the many thousands of people who live in or visit the city centre. Behind the scenes a lot of work goes on to make sure the city centre is as safe a place it can be at night.
“At the same time, we recognise that alcohol can cause substantial harm to people. City ward, which includes residents in the city centre, has the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in Sheffield. A late night levy is a way of raising extra funds to pay for more resources, whether extra police presence or more street cleaning the morning after. It would only apply to late-night drinking establishments that open after midnight.”