The nighttime sector has been 'left to bleed' | New calls for urgent help to save businesses © Pierre Rosa / Pixabay

The nighttime sector has been 'left to bleed'

New calls for urgent help to save businesses

A third of pubs, bars and other hospitality venues fear closure within a month – as the government has been accused of letting the sector ‘bleed’ to death.

A new survey by the Night Time Industries Association of more than 500 premises, found one in five said that they could lose their entire workforce within a month without urgent Government support.

Customers and audiences are staying away from venues such as comedy clubs, either because they have tested positive for Covid or fear they might contract it, ruining their Christmas plans.

But the Government has not mandated any closures, so has not felt the need to support the sector.

Almost half of London's major venues scrapped performances this weekend as the Omicron virus continues to spread, the Society of London Theatre says.

And smaller venues staging comedy shows such as Soho Theatre and Leicester Square Theatre, have closed their doors, too.

The Night Time Industries Association survey found that:

  • On average, night time economy venues have lost £46,000 per unit in lost sales and cancellations during the festive period.
  • Over half of businesses required to introduce Covid Certification for entry to their premises report witnessing over a 40 per cent drop in footfall.
  • Half of all businesses in the night time economy will have to cut over half of jobs in their workforce if the Government does not provide commensurate financial support.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the association, said: ‘ "It really is a chilling prospect to see so many venues in our sector left to bleed, with a lockdown in everything but name and absolutely no recognition of this from the Government.

‘These venues have faced over 20 months of financial hardship and the Christmas trade period was integral to keeping those surviving businesses afloat in the upcoming year. 

‘If further restrictions are to be implemented, the Chancellor must step in and recognise the huge damage that waves of cancellations, driven by mixed Government messaging, resource intensive Covid protocols and costly restrictions actually have.

‘The Government have had 20 months to learn how our sector operates; it is beggars belief we stand here again, as if back in March 2020, imploring the Government to listen to us, to understand how businesses work and to realise that inaction is a death sentence for our industry. It really is a cataclysmic Christmas."

Sacha Lord, the Night Time Economy Advisor for Greater Manchester,  added: ‘Whilst shocking and upsetting, these latest stats don’t come as much surprise. The industry have been unanimously calling on the Chancellor for both support and leadership. To date, our calls have fallen on deaf ears and for some, it is already too late. If the UK’s fifth biggest industry has any hope of survival, he must come forward, urgently.’

Last week, the Live Comedy Association called for immediate government support to prop up the sector, saying stay-at-home guidance was ‘pushing our industry to the edge’.

Chair Pax Lowey told Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries: ‘Without immediate financial support, organisations will face permanent closure and individuals will leave our world-class industry forever.’

The situation is hitting comedians and some support staff especially hard, given their self-employed status.

After spending the weekend tweeting about Strictly and a hedgehog sanctuary, Dorries today responded to industry concerns, saying: ‘The Culture Recovery Fund remains open, and is available for theatres - of any type - to apply for emergency resource support funding should they need it.’

» More comedy gigs axed as Omicron rages

Published: 20 Dec 2021

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