Night-time economy: ‘If we get the night-time economy going again there will be more nights out and more tax coming in’

The Government should retain the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) for the first three months of 2022, according to the chairman of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) for Dublin.

head of next week’s Budget, Noel Anderson said the ability to retain staff is one of the main concerns for the LVA.

“We’re hoping that they retain the TWSS into quarter one of next year that’s a big help for us at the moment because we’re finding that you have to really staff it up the way services are there are nearly three people needed front of house with the amount of paperwork that’s needed,” Mr Anderson said.

“Assistance in getting the wages back going and being able to retain staff is probably the number one for me certainly and I think it’s high up there on the LVA’s ask.”

Mr Anderson owns two bars in Dublin, The Bridge 1859 and Lemon & Duke. He said the Government should also waive special exemption orders for the first six months of 2022.

A special exemption order allows a pub to serve alcohol until the early hours of the morning. This type of order expires at 2.30am. The mandatory late-night opening charge costs €410 per night.

“We’re asking the Government to waive the special exemption orders. If you’re in the late-night business and you’re opening up on October 22, you have to apply to the courts in advance for your exemptions,” he explains.

“It’s very hard to know what the late-night business will look like once we get going. It costs me €410 and a solicitor’s fee every time we pay for a late-night exemption it doesn’t matter the size of the venue.

“Where I’ve been lucky enough to trade under the restrictions the late-night members have never had that chance, so we’re saying in fairness they’re probably due a bit of a leg-up here and we’re asking Government to waive it for the first six months of the year because they’re due to reform a huge amount of the licensing laws around special exemptions.”

Mr Anderson added: “It’ll give the late-night economy a boost to get going again and if they waive it there will be more nights out and more work for people and more tax coming in. I think it’s an easy ask and an easy win for them, it makes sense and I’d love to see it on a personal level because it would get them back on their feet.”

Mr Anderson said the LVA is also asking the Government to waive the council rates for properties for the remainder of the year.

“The council rates are currently due to be paid from October 1 and we’re asking the Government to roll it into the rest of the year and give us that last quarter which is key because it can be a significant cost it would be around €15,000 for me just for that quarter alone just in one bar,” he said.

“In fairness the Government has waived them up until now but they’re due to kick back in now and then one of the other things we’re looking at is around vat and excise.”

Mr Anderson believes the price of alcohol will not increase.

“I don’t think excise will go up, I think it will probably remain where it is, which is important,” he said.

“We’re asking for it to go down but most likely they will leave it alone. We’ve been actively out asking them to reduce it, the price of excise on a bottle of wine in Ireland compared to France or Spain it’s expensive enough as it is.”

Mr Anderson said in order to attract tourists back into the country the reduced VAT rate for the hospitality sector should be left in place for a few more years to come.

“The other important thing for us is around food and VAT and getting tourism back into the country and I think that’ll be really important for the hoteliers as well. For us to attract tourism back into the country we need to keep the VAT rate as it is but we’re asking for the next couple of Budgets for it to be left in place at the moment they’ve just done this year and next year,” he said.

Mr Anderson added: “I will say genuinely I think the Government were really poor at the start in reacting to this but in fairness to them the supports have been good, and they have gotten a lot of businesses through and what we’re saying to them is look see us over the last stitch and I think it will really pay back for them.

“Hospitality businesses have paid billions of euros in taxes, and they’ll be back paying them again so I think their strategy will pay off if they just see it over the final stretch.

“The general consensus is that once we get to spring next year, we should be in good shape again.”

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