Mounting anger among operators excluded from latest government support

24 September 2020 by
Mounting anger among operators excluded from latest government support

Leaders from the night time economy sector have said they are "an industry in exile" having been excluded from the latest raft of government support, and have warned that growing anger among operators will give rise to backlash.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said that today's announcement "seemed to tick the right boxes but when you delve deeper there are glaringly obvious gaps".

While the new measures offered a "small lifeline" for business that are able to open, Kill said they were irrelevant for those which are still forced to remain closed, such as nightclubs and live music venues.

He told The Caterer: "All measures put in place today by the chancellor are relevant to operating businesses that are viable, not those unable to reopen due to government order.

"We need absolute clarity for businesses that are unable to open. They are going to seriously be considering redundancy now."

As for extending the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL), Kill questioned the viability of businesses whose incomes had been decimated due to forced closure and limited capacities.

He said: "How can you express any expression of viability? They're not viable now, because they're not open. And for those operating at 30-40% capacity, are those pubs then subject to viability concerns?"

Kill said that since the announcement the NTIA had been "inundated" with calls from members. However, he is hopeful that planned talks on Friday between sector leaders and government departments might lead to more positive ongoing negotiations.

He added: "There is growing anger among the sector and if there isn't a quick resolve to this there is going to be substantial backlash from the sector – businesses who have already spent thousands on making their businesses Covid-safe."

"The extension of debt is just compounding the issue. Existing debt plus an extension of a debt term is not going to alleviate the position when there is no income."

Lex Butler, chair of the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), said that the chancellor's latest measures "were not enough" to provide what the agencies, venues and event services suppliers and the 700,000 people that work in UK events desperately needed to prevent further redundancies or permanent closures.

He said that he "cautiously" welcomed the new Jobs Support Scheme and an extension to the VAT cut, however due to the pause in reopening larger events many businesses in the sector still faced the prospect of no income in the pipeline "until well into 2021".

He added: "Ultimately this is too little to pull them back from the brink and to keep them going, and HBAA will continue lobbying and campaigning for greater financial support.

"Despite today's intervention by the government, there will be further devastation of the sector, not only now but potentially for many years to come as so much talent is being lost from the industry."

Similarly, the Meetings Industry Association (MIA) has said it is "utterly dismayed" by the chancellor's new support measures and warned the lack of sector-specific support would have a "huge knock-on effect" on business tourism.

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of MIA, said: "The government's ‘radical interventions' have completely disregarded the business meetings and events sector and its valuable £70bn contribution to the economy.

She added: "The extension of VAT cuts for hospitality and tourism companies until March 2021 is completely meaningless for our business to business sector.

"Sadly, without a radical rethink by government, venues will be closing, and more jobs will be lost. Some current estimates are that this could be as devastatingly high as 80% of our sector."

Meanwhile Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), said he was "very disappointed" by the new initiatives and warned that without additional sector-specific support, many business owners would have "no choice but to close down".

He said: "It must be recognised that the Jobs Support Scheme is significantly less generous then the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It is designed to back ‘viable jobs' – and with the latest restrictions on our pubs and bars, many jobs in our sector will be unviable. It is also not clear at the moment how the scheme will be implemented."

"The industry is struggling to survive now and operators need support today through additional comprehensive sector-specific support for the hospitality sector, highlighted by the chancellor as a sector which has been hit the hardest.

"More must be done for a sector operating under serious restrictive measures."

Image: Shutterstock

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking