It has been announced that the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) is to commission research into the operation and impact of the Late Night Levy in London, including analysis of crime and antisocial behaviour. The intention is that this will ensure that future GLA policies, guidance and consultation responses to local authorities, or the government, on the Late Night Levy are evidence based.
In terms of the background to this, the Mayor of London’s website states as follows:
Introduction and background
In January 2019, the Mayor and London’s Night Time Commission published research showing that two-thirds of Londoners are regularly active at night; running errands, socialising or taking part in community, leisure or educational activity. 1.6 million people (one-third of London’s workforce) usually work at night, primarily in health, social care, hospitality, culture or office-based professions. The economy is growing faster at night than in the day and local councils see increased activity at night as vital to the future success of high streets.
The Mayor has appointed a Night Czar and set up a 24-Hour London programme. He has launched the Night Tube, published his Vision for London as a 24-Hour City and carried out the most comprehensive research on any city at night. He set up an independent Night Time Commission which delivered its final report, Think Night, in January 2019. The commission proposed that London would benefit from better planning to ensure life can thrive between 6pm and 6am. The Mayor welcomed the commission’s report and recommendations and is putting them into action.
Pursuant to of MD2451 the Mayor approved a budget of £257,000 in 2019/20 to take forward the recommendations of the Night Time Commission and support the work of the Night Czar. This includes running a Night Time Enterprise Zone pilot project, carrying out research into the impact of later opening hours, setting up a late night transport working group and publishing guidance for boroughs to help them develop Night Time Strategies. These strategies are proposed in the new London Plan. The guidance will include case studies and best practice examples that promote good management of high streets and town centres at night.
Good practice in licensing, policing and community safety is essential to the effective management of high streets and town centres at night. Night time activity on the high street is often centred around licensed premises such as cultural spaces, music venues, theatres, pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants. That is why the Mayor made a commitment in his Police and Crime Plan and his Culture Strategy to help boroughs, businesses and police improve consistency of licensing practice across the capital.
Late Night Levy
A range of schemes promote the sustainable management of high streets and town centres at night. In some areas, funding for such schemes is raised through a Late Night Levy.
Local authorities were given the power to introduce a Late Night Levy through the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (PRSRA 2011). This discretionary power enables licensing authorities in England and Wales to raise a contribution towards policing the night time economy from licenced premises. The levy must cover the whole of the licensing authority’s area and can be applied every night between midnight and 6am.
The amount of the levy is prescribed nationally and is based on the current licence fee system under the Licensing Act 2003, with premises licence holders placed in bands based on the rateable value of their premises. In London, the net levy revenue must be split between the licensing authority and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). At least 70% of the net revenue must be given to the police, with the licensing authority retaining up to 30% to fund services it provides to manage its high streets and town centres at night. These must be in connection with the supply of alcohol during the late night supply period and related to arrangements for: the reduction of crime and disorder; the promotion of public safety; the reduction or prevention of public nuisance; or the cleaning of any relevant highway or relevant land in the local authority area. In London, MOPAC has agreed that each of the local authorities to have introduced the levy will retain 100% of the net revenue.
Currently six local authorities in London operate a Late Night Levy: the City of London (since Oct 2014); Islington (since Nov 2014); Camden (since Apr 2016); Hackney (since Nov 2017); Tower Hamlets (since Jan 2018); Southwark (since Sep 2019). Redbridge has begun public consultation on whether to introduce a Late Night Levy.
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 introduced reforms to the Late Night Levy. They were: allowing licensing authorities to target specific geographical locations; extending the levy to include late night refreshment outlets; enabling Police and Crime Commissioners to request that the licensing authority introduces a levy; requiring licensing authorities to publish information about how funds raised by the levy are spent. These changes would be likely to increase the number of London boroughs that introduce the Late Night Levy.
In April 2017 a House of Lords Select Committee report said that the levy in its current form had failed to achieve its objectives and should be abolished. However, it did recognise that the 2017 Act’s changes might “stand some chance of successfully reforming” it.
In its response (November 2017), the Government said that it would be commencing the provisions of the 2017 Act. However, it would not commence the measure allowing licensing authorities to charge the levy to late night refreshment premises until it had consulted on the appropriate level of the charge.
To date, the provisions of the 2017 Act have not commenced and the consultation has not been undertaken.
Introductions of Late Night Levies in London have proven contentious. Night time businesses have claimed that the levy unfairly discriminates against licensed businesses that operate after midnight, whilst daytime businesses that place a burden on police and council resources do not pay additional charges.
The number of licensed premises is increasing in many boroughs whilst local authority licensing budgets are not increasing to meet the growing demand on services.
There is currently no evaluation of how levy funding is used across different boroughs nor the impact, positive or negative, that it is having. Research is required to better understand how the Late Night Levy is used in London and the impact that it is having, particularly the impacts on crime and antisocial behaviour. This will enable the Mayor to take an evidence-based position on its impact and effectiveness, particularly when responding to local authority or government consultations on the introduction of (or changes to) the Late Night Levy. The research will also inform the guidance that the Mayor has committed to publishing to help boroughs produce Night Time Strategies.
MOPAC will undertake the procurement process and manage the appointed consultant. MOPAC have specialist expertise in procuring and managing research of this nature. The consultant that will deliver bespoke research and analytics exploring how the Late Night Levy operates and the impact it is having across various London boroughs. The consultant will carry out both quantitative and qualitative research. The research will be overseen by a joint GLA and MOPAC working group chaired by the Night Czar.
The objective of the research to be commissioned and procured by MOPAC is to provide insights into:
- The rationale for boroughs introducing the levy; how the levy has been operated; details of levy income and expenditure; a description of activities funded.
- What impact the levy has had. This will include data on the number of businesses paying the levy; the number of businesses that changed their opening hours following the introduction of the levy; an assessment of whether the levy has addressed the aims that were set by the local authority; an assessment of benefit to communities, the local authority and businesses; an assessment of the impact of the levy on vulnerable Londoners.
- Perceptions towards the levy across a range of stakeholders both within boroughs that have adopted the levy and in areas without the levy or considering uptake.
- Preliminary results analysis exploring crime and antisocial behaviours in Late Night Levy boroughs, compared to similar areas without the levy, before and after implementation.
The consultant will produce a final report to be submitted to MOPAC and the GLA by Spring 2020.
Future Mayoral policies, published guidance and consultation responses related to the Late Night Levy and management of town centres and high streets at night, will be evidence based.
Boroughs will have an evidence base to inform their decision making on retention, or introduction, of the Late Night Levy.