Night-time industry leaders warn sector is on the edge of 'catastrophe' ahead of government meeting

07 September 2020 by
Night-time industry leaders warn sector is on the edge of 'catastrophe' ahead of government meeting

Night-time industry leaders have said the end of furlough could be "catastrophic" for the sector, with mass closures and redundancies expected if the Job Retention Scheme is not extended.

Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester (pictured), and Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), are due to meet with business minister Paul Scully this evening to negotiate a recovery plan that included a sector-specific extension to the scheme.

It is understood that Scully, secretary of state in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), would meet by video link with eight industry leaders to discuss a financial recovery plan to save the night-time economy from collapse.

Lord told The Caterer that the sector, which includes nightclubs and entertainment venues, wanted the government to agree to extend the furlough scheme because it had been the first to close and would be "undoubtedly the last one to reopen".

Lord said that without a government U-turn, the night-time economy, which employs 1.3 million, representing almost 8% of the UK's employment, would see "mass closures and mass redundancies". He was hopeful that the Treasury would recognise the benefits of extending the scheme for both parties.

He said: "If nightclubs were helped, you've got all this PAYE, VAT and corporation tax coming back in over the next 10 years. It doesn't take a genius to work out the economics.

"I am hopeful because I think they [the government] can see the problem coming down the line. If they do turn around, it's a win-win for everybody."

He added: "I am absolutely confident that if this sector-specific support isn't extended, it could be catastrophic."

Amanda Newbery, managing director and co-owner of Salisbury-based group Knightwood Leisure, posted on Twitter that it was a "critical time for nightclubs and the building overheads keep on coming".

It was reported in The Mail on Sunday that Deltic Group, the country's largest operator of late-night bars and clubs, employing 3,000 staff across 53 venues, was already planning more than 400 redundancies. Chief executive Peter Marks, who was due to attend Monday's meeting, was unavailable for comment.

Charlie Gilkes, co-founder of Inception Group which operates nightclub venue Bunga Bunga in south London, said he felt "very strongly" that if the sector was forced to remain closed there needed to be an extension of support otherwise it would be "the final nail in the nightclub coffin".

He told The Caterer: "Clearly there isn't the national love for nightclubs as much as there is for pubs but we need to realise that they are a huge contributor to the economy and we need to protect jobs."

Also attending the meeting was UKHospitality's chief executive Kate Nicholls, who said that the government had thus far "heeded our efforts" to spotlight those "suffering in unique circumstances".

She added: "Nightclubs certainly fall into that category, by virtue of still being unable to operate, so I hope that we can work with government to provide a roadmap for reopening and workable criteria to expedite a return to trade, so that the 45,000 jobs in nightclubs can be safeguarded."

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