The Government is set to reveal later today (Monday 14 June) further easing of lockdown restrictions as part of its ‘step four’ of the roadmap, which was meant to include a removal of all legal social contact limits and the reopening of nightclubs, is to be delayed until Monday 19 July.
Half (50%) of businesses surveyed by the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) have said they wouldn’t survive longer than two months.
One fifth (20%) of respondents estimated they will lose more than £10,000 a week in revenue either open with restrictions in place for closed as a result of the delay to ‘freedom day’ on Monday 21 June.
Extreme financial hardship
The Night-Time Industries Association is asking the Government for:
- An extension of the restrictions grant for businesses
- An extension to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme/Bounce Back Scheme loans repayment holiday
- An extension of the forfeiture moratorium until the end of 2021
- An extension of business rates relief
- An extension of 5% VAT reduction
- Events and festival insurance cover
NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “Night-time economy businesses have waited patiently for their opportunity to open for more than 15 months, many have not survived, some are on a financial cliff edge, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, a huge pool of talent has been swept away and others have been left to suffer extreme financial hardship.
“We should not underestimate the importance of the 21 June to these businesses, employees, entertainers and freelancers, a day when they should be given back there opportunity to trade, regain their livelihoods, careers, social wellbeing and the day that the Government is due to give culture back to the UK.
“Many of these businesses and individuals have adapted, overcome and survived for an exceptional length of time with the bare bones of support, and have arrived at this opportunity to find that it could be ripped away from them.
“Any delay will drive confidence in the sector to a new low, culminating in workforce leaving the sector, and customers who are starved of social engagement, attending illegal unregulated events in place of businesses that are well operated, licensed and regulated.”
Overburdened with debt
The trade association called on the Government to continue various support schemes that have been in place amid the pandemic.
Kill added: “These businesses are overburdened with debt, so any decision to delay will make them heavily reliant on the Government to extend financial support and relief, including additional restriction grants, exclusion from furlough contributions, extension of loan repayment holiday for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme/Bounce Back Scheme as well as business rates and VAT relief for the next 12 months, not forgetting the £2.6bn in commercial rent debt left unresolved.
“The Government must understand the human impact of this decision, not only considering the public health challenges of the virus but also the people within our sector who are suffering terribly and the real health risks that this represents, given the overwhelming confidence in the vaccination rollout, and the ability for the sector to deliver Covid-safe environments.
“Distressed industries cannot continue to be held in limbo, as businesses are left to fall, any decision to delay without clarity on when they can open will leave us no other option but to challenge the Government, standing alongside many other industries who have been locked down or restricted from opening for an extreme length of time, through no fault of their own, and at their own cost.”