Talk of viable jobs 'condemns nightclubs to systematic closure'

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Left to collapse: night clubs feel abandoned by the Government's jobs plan and rhetoric around 'viable businesses', Micheal Kill, Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) CEO says.
Left to collapse: night clubs feel abandoned by the Government's jobs plan and rhetoric around 'viable businesses', Micheal Kill, Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) CEO says.

Related tags Coronavirus

The nation’s late-night venues have been left in a ‘deadly limbo’ by Government rhetoric on ‘viable jobs’, according to sector representatives.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said his winter economy plan aims to “protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus”.

This has left many in the hospitality sector - including operators of venues still unable to reopen - questioning what a "viable job" is. 

However, the Government will not explicitly express which jobs in the hospitality sector it considers viable, The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ understands.

The Job Support Scheme will replace the existing job retention furlough scheme from November 1. It will only support roles where workers can work at least a third of their hours and employers must contribute a significant chunk.

Nightclubs have still not received a date or criteria for reopening and those which adapted into bar concepts are now reporting reduced trade from the 10pm curfew.

Not enough

“The support package announced so far will not be enough to save some businesses," UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls said.

“Nightclubs and the late-night sector, in particular, are suffering because they are being held in a deadly limbo. Nightclubs have worked to make their venues safe and their businesses viable in order to keep jobs secure, but they still cannot open.”

“It is hard to argue the viability of jobs without being able to actually open," she added. "Their life support is about to be turned off, so we need swift Government action.”

Her comments come after many in the sector were riled by comments from Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills Gillian Keegan who said it was "hard to see how nightclubs will open until we have some kind of long term way to deal with coronavirus” in an interview with Sky News.

"It’s difficult to see how you can have a nightclub operating with coronavirus in any sort of enjoyable way," Keegan added.

"It is clear that some of those jobs may take a long time to come back because they don’t fit with the virus."

Devastating comments

Micheal Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said Keegan's stance “only substantiates the lack of understanding of our sector and the cultural importance of the entrepreneurs and creatives that work within it."

“With thousands of businesses and professionals in the sector under extreme financial pressure, with many unable to access government support, the news that many will be unable to open until there is a long-term solution to coronavirus is devastating.”

The Government’s jobs scheme had brought “no comfort” to the sector and many feel the industry is “being left to collapse,” Kill added.

He said the rhetoric around viable businesses from the Chancellor and other ministers condemned the night-time economy to “systematic closure.” 

The Government must recognise the cultural and economic value of nightclubs, which generated £66bn per annum prior to the pandemic with specific support to protect jobs and businesses, Kill said.

Government support

The Prime Minister told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (30 September), that while the Government was “doing everything we can to save every job in the country,” it could not save every job.

Labour leader Keir Starmer criticised the PM. “But for these extraordinary restrictions, these are viable jobs,” he said. “These businesses are doing the right thing. Why has the Government decided that these jobs aren’t worth saving?”

A Treasury spokesperson told The MA:​ “Our support for business has reached, and continues to reach, millions of firms. The Job Support Scheme is designed to protect jobs in businesses facing lower demand over the winter due to Covid, and is just one form of support on offer to employers during this difficult period. 

“Businesses can still access our loan schemes, now extended, defer VAT payments previously due in March, and benefit from business rates holidays, a moratorium of eviction for commercial tenants and the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

“We’re also continuing to innovate in supporting incomes and employment through our Plan for Jobs announced in July, helping employees get back to work through a £1,000 retention bonus and creating new roles for young people with our Kickstart scheme.”

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