THOUSANDS of struggling pubs could shut for good if the Government refuses to refund huge sums of cash which is used to keep them safe at night, peers have warned.
Pubs all over Britain currently fork over cash to councils to keep themselves safe from late-night anti social behaviour.
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They’ve had to pay the charge – up to £1,200 per establishment – even while they’ve been shut for months and are losing millions of pounds.
The Government is now being urged to allow councils to hand the money back to keep pubs open.
Lib Dem peer John Shipley told The Sun the move would save Britain’s boozers thousands of pounds.
He said: “Despite pubs being closed over the past few months, they are still being hit by thousands of pounds in charges as part of the late night levy.
“Not only are they paying these costs whilst they’ve been shut, but this seems particularly unfair at a time when our pubs are financially struggling to get back on their feet, let alone when so many are on the brink of closure.”
Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper added: “Many pubs have gone above and beyond in meeting COVID secure guidelines but their future is by no means certain.
“Whilst vital social distancing measures remain in place, our pubs will not be able to return to serving as many customers as they used to, let alone catch up on the business they have lost during the pandemic”.
It was welcomed by the consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale, who warned scrapping it was vital to help keep pubs open.
CAMRA Chief Executive Tom Stainer said: “Late night levy fees have cost pubs up to £1,200 per pub during lockdown.
“This just isn’t fair when they have had no income. Community pubs are a vital part of our social fabric and play a key role tackling loneliness and social isolation – the Government must act to make sure they scrap these late night levy fees, as part of efforts to secure the long-term survival of pubs.
“We know that some local councils have tried to axe charges to pubs but have been told that they can’t cancel fees without Government intervention”.
A vote on the amendment will take place in the House of Lords later tonight, on the finance and planning bill.
Last week the Chancellor Rishi Sunak slashed VAT by a whopping 15% for the hospitality sector from 15 July through to 12 January next year – to get more Brits out and about to boost the nation after months in lockdown.
Brits will be able to dine out at cafes, restaurants and pubs from Monday to Wednesday for half price – up to £10 a head per person – throughout the month of August.
However, the discount – dubbed Eat Out to Help Out – does not include alcoholic drinks sparking fears for the future of pubs.
Greg Mulholland, the chair of the Campaign for Pubs, said: “We urge the chancellor to think again, or we will see the closures of many valued pubs, including in his own constituency.”
It comes after pubs and bars reopened on Super Saturday for the first time in three months on July 4.
Pictures showed Soho’s streets packed with many throwing social distancing out the window.
Some 15million pints were drunk over the course of Super Saturday and John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation, said it was “crystal clear” that people cannot follow social distancing measures when they’ve been drinking.
At least three pubs have been forced to close their doors again due to a coronavirus scare after reopening.
Figures, meanwhile, show that despite coronavirus the number of pubs being shut permanently is slowing down.
Some 228 shut in England and Wales in the first half of this year, taking the total to 40,835. A total of 238 shut in the second half of last year.
The Home Office did not respond to requests for comment.
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