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40 MPs warn urgent government action needed to stop nightlife "extinction"

A new reports makes key recommendations needed for the government to save UK nightlife

  • Words: Patrick Hinton | Photo: Ewan Munro
  • 18 February 2021
40 MPs warn urgent government action needed to stop nightlife "extinction"

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Night Time Economy, which was set up in December with the purpose of “recognising the cultural and economic importance of nightlife to the UK”, has told the government urgent action is required to prevent the extinction of UK nightlife.

The cross-party group of more than 40 MPs, chaired by Labour MP Jeff Smith, launched an urgent inquiry into the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s night-time economy.

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The report has today been published, warning that the sector faces “extinction” without urgent action from the government.

It calls for the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to confirm a sector-specific financial aid package and detailed roadmap to reopening in order to stop “irreversible losses” that would create “ghost towns” across the country and stem economic recovery after the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Hundreds of written submissions from businesses, local authorities and leading trade bodies were examined, and an online survey received 20,112 responses from a range of consumers, businesses, employees and freelance workers.

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Key findings from the report titled ‘COVID-19 and UK nightlife’ note that 85% of people working in the night-time economy are considering quitting the industry and 78% of sector employees have been put on furlough at some point.

It also found that on average, night-time economy businesses have made 37% of their total staff redundant, and in the second half of 2020 traded at an average of 28% of their annualised turnover prior to the pandemic.

Talking about the report, Jeff Smith MP said: “Our world-leading night clubs, pubs, bars, and live music venues are cornerstones of our communities. They drive so much economic activity both locally and nationally, and bring hope, joy and entertainment to millions across the UK. Our findings today reveal this industry is on its knees, in desperate need of additional support from the Government and a concrete plan for reopening. Without these interventions, many of these viable businesses will go under, leaving city and town centres resembling ghost towns. If the Government is serious about its ‘levelling up’ agenda it must act now to save this sector and avoid untold damage to the social fabric of this country.”

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Key recommendations the report makes to help UK nightlife include extending the furlough scheme until businesses can operate without restrictions, extending VAT and business rates relief through 2021, producing a clear roadmap for reopening nightlife venues with reference to mass vaccination and testing, expanding Culture Recovery Fund eligibility and bringing forward a sector-specific support package, launching a Treasury-backed scheme to grow demand once lockdown restrictions are eased, and appointing a UK Government Night Time Economy Advisor.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “We are pleased to support the APPG for the Night Time Economy when it became clear our industry’s needs weren’t being heard by policy makers. But it gives me no pleasure today to announce the findings of this report, which confirm the devastating impact that the pandemic has had on UK nightlife.

“Every day I speak with the dedicated people that make up this industry – from artists to engineers, bar staff to security, and production to promoters – they have shown great resilience in the face of adversity.

“But resilience only gets you so far without the required support. We need more assistance and a detailed plan for reopening now. Otherwise, much of what defines a night out in the UK will be lost forever.”

You can read the full 46 page report here.

Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Features Editor, follow him on Twitter

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