Pubs, cafes and restaurants are set to get support from Barnet Council to help them boost customer numbers following the coronavirus lockdown.

The council plans to shave hundreds of pounds off an application fee for a licence to have outdoor seating areas, cutting it from £440 to £100 for six months.

It also intends to reduce the payment due once an application has been granted to £80.

The move is expected to help hospitality businesses as they reopen from July 4 in line with Government social distancing guidelines.

Environment chief Geoff Mee revealed the details at a meeting of the environment committee on Tuesday (June 30) in response to a member’s item by Cllr Jo Cooper (Labour, East Barnet) calling on the council to temporarily waive the street-trading license fee.

Mr Mee said: “I am pleased to say we have got a proposal to reduce the fee. At the moment, they are £440 per six months. We intend to reduce that to £100 on application and only £80 on grant.

“It is a very significant reduction of the licence fee. We want to encourage people to use the widened pavements we have been introducing through the social distancing initiative.

“We see this as being a real opportunity for businesses. This would apply to cafes, where social distancing would preclude the number of people inside the café from being a viable proposition.

“We have also been looking at what can be done by the way of grants for these businesses that may need some help with delineating their space.

“I am pleased to say we have already started to talk to businesses about a reduction in that licence fee.”

Mr Mee added that there is a bill currently going through parliament advocating licence fee reductions, meaning further support could soon be available for businesses in the borough.

Cllr Felix Byers (Conservative, East Barnet) said it was a “great idea” but questioned the financial impact on the council in terms of lost revenue.

Mr Mee said: “We are yet to determine the financial impact. There will be more licences for less money. We do not know what the mark-up is going to be and what the Government decisions might be.

“We will keep an eye on the financial impact and report back when we review how this has gone and the effect on business, which could be significant.”

Councillors unanimously agreed the proposals.