'Horror and despair' as night-time economy shut out from winter support package

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

'Horror and despair' as night-time economy shut out from Winter support package Job Support Scheme NTIA

Related tags: Night time economy, Coronavirus, Government

Night-time economy businesses have been left 'in exile' after the Chancellor's Winter Economy Plan failed to contain any extra support for late-night operators that still remain closed.

Speaking to the House of Commons yesterday (24 September), Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined a number of new measures the Government was taking to help businesses continuing to struggle during the pandemic​, including a six-month Job Support Scheme (JSS) and an extension to the cut in VAT until the end of March.

Immediately following the announcement, Night Time Industries Authority (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill said more clarity over support was needed with regards to the majority of businesses in the night-time economy who do not know when, or if, they will be able to reopen their doors.

However, Kill says it has now become clear that those businesses have been completely shut out from receiving extra support.

“Shock, horror and despair have reverberated across swathes of the night-time industry as more details of the Chancellor’s Winter Economy Plan have been revealed," he says.

"It is now clear that there is no support for businesses in the sector which are still forced to remain closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

"Even the businesses that can reopen in the industry are unable to see the benefit of the scheme as the recent 10pm curfew makes operating barely viable."

The centrepiece of the Chancellor's latest package is the JSS, a six-month subsidy programme to replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) from November, which will see the Government continue to pay a portion of employee's wages.

Sunak described it as a scheme that would 'allow firms to preserve viable jobs'.

Under the JSS, employees must be able to work a minimum of 33% of their contracted monthly hours.

For remaining hours not worked, the Government and employer will pay a third of wages each, meaning employees only able to work 33% of hours would still receive at least 77% of their pay.

The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.

"The Government has chosen to support only businesses able to operate viably and is completely ignoring those who have been unable to trade since March whilst leveraging crippling restrictions on the businesses that can open," continues Kill.

"The night-time economy has been totally disregarded by Government policy.

"The Government narrative has delivered empty promises and left us an industry in exile.

"Debt terms have been driven further down the road for a sector that is already overburdened financially, with many of our members languishing in up to three quarters of commercial rent arrears with no certainty on whether they can pay this.

"It is simply not good enough to allow much loved entertainment, cultural and social institutions in an industry that, pre-Covid, employed over 1.3 million people and contributed £66bn per year to the UK economy, to disappear with all the corporate and personal pain that causes.”

The NTIA warned last month that nearly 60% of night-time economy businesses could go bust by the end of September​.

The research revealed that 58% of operators in the space fear they will not survive longer than two months without further Government support, putting an estimated 754,000 jobs at risk.

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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