The proposed late night levy could cost the industry up to £9m per year — while the higher licence fees would add a further £6.5m annually, writes John Harrington. That is according to government estimates released alongside its new alcohol consultation. The impact assessment says the total cost of the proposed late night levy would vary from £400,000 to £9m. The figure is based on estimates that the fee would fall between £100 and £2,000 — how it will be calculated is open to consultation. It also takes into account varying degrees of take up among regions. The cost of the higher licence fee is based on a 7% year-on-year increase, the level recommended by the Elton Report of 2006. This means annual increases of, for example, £5 for venues in Band A, £13 for those in Band D, and £21 for those in Band C. But worryingly, the report says the 7% hike is "likely to be at the bottom range of the rise needed". However, repealing the mandatory alcohol retailing code - which is also flagged up in the consultation — would save the industry £39,160,000 per year, the report says. The bulk of this saving would be the £37.2m cost of onerous age-check procedures required under the code. The document says reductions and exemptions based on the size of businesses would be considered under the late night levy. However, there will be no favours for small businesses overall. "One of the aims of the proposed changes is to empower local communities to tackle those businesses, both small and large, that are contributing to alcohol related crime in their area. "Exempting small businesses could jeopardise this aim because it is likely that there are a number of small businesses who are selling alcohol irresponsibly and therefore who should face the same measures as their larger counterparts. "We therefore do not consider it appropriate to exempt small businesses from the proposals in the consultation." The document adds: "We have already met with representatives from the on-trade and the off-trade as well as manufacturers to discuss the likely impact the proposed measures would have on their businesses. "We will continue to seek the views of these parties throughout the consultation to ensure that the policies have as small as possible an impact on responsible businesses while having a strong impact on those premises that sell alcohol irresponsibly."