Could permanent pavement licences rescue hospitality post-Covid?
UKHospitality has called for pavement licences to be made permanent in response to the call from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) for views on the temporary scheme.
“Pavement licences have been a really positive success story, and in many cases have enabled businesses to remain open, when otherwise they would have had to close or restrict their opening hours, threatening thousands of jobs,” UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said.
The scheme was introduced in April 2021 and is set to end this September.
Nicholls described permanent pavement licences as a “low-cost, low admin” scheme with great benefits for the industry, which is facing rising costs across the board, including VAT, business rates, rents, staffing and raw goods.
Outdoor spaces also benefit towns and communities across the country whose centres were previously without al fresco drinking and dining, enabling them to begin the process of levelling up.
Nicholls said: “By helping local economies recover – and recover faster – this will undoubtedly contribute to the long-term levelling up of the regions. The fact that the scheme has been embraced enthusiastically by a number of local authorities is hugely encouraging in itself.
“It’s crucial, therefore, that we press for the pavement licence scheme to made permanent, so that pubs, bars and restaurants struggling to recover from the pandemic can get back on their feet much quicker.
UKHospitality’s consultation response recognises that making the scheme permanent may require changes in terms of cost and how it is administered, but calls for it to remain easy to use and cheap enough for businesses to continue using it.
It has agreed with a proposed £350 cap on application fees, and suggests that any new fee system should encourage and allow local authorities to offer subsidised – or even free – pavement licences, which some councils have already done.
In other news, research reveals that people are tipping less than they were pre-pandemic. Read more about that here.