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NTIA calls for urgent support for nightclubs

Trade body the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) is calling on the UK government to provide venues with financial aid as they face a bulk of cancellations.

Nightclubs in England could soon have to restrict entry to vaccinated consumers

Last week (8 December), UK prime minister Boris Johnson said ‘Plan B’ measures in England are now necessary due to the rise in omicron cases of Covid-19.

From tomorrow (15 December), subject to parliamentary approval, people will need an NHS Covid Pass or negative lateral flow test to enter nightclubs and other large-capacity venues.

The NTIA said the government’s guidance has left the industry facing ’12 days of Christmas misery’ as it ‘heavily implies’ that consumers should reduce socialising.

Michael Kill, CEO of NTIA, said: “It is now clear that the government have left the sector facing 12 days of Christmas misery, with no mandatory restrictions on trade but still a significant drop off – just as the prime minister did initially back in March 2020 before he eventually forced a lockdown.

“Night-time businesses are particularly reliant on the festive period to get them through the rest of winter – without this, the result is a threat to the very survival of thousands of businesses and jobs.”

The trade body warned that most businesses have vast unpaid pandemic debts and are now facing reduced revenues and ‘spiralling costs’.

Members of the NTIA have reported cancellations and lower visitor numbers. As such, they are considering whether they can continue to operate.

The NTIA said that footfall since last Thursday (9 December) has dropped by 30% on average and continues to fall daily. The trade body predicts a decline of 50% or more over the coming days as cancellations come in, as well as knock-on effects across the supply chain.

The NTIA estimates the sector has seen £4 billion (US$5.3bn) in additional economic damage in the last week alone.

The trade group is asking the government to avoid a ‘pseudo-lockdown’, whereby venues are not told to close but are unable to trade profitably.

The NTIA is calling for several measures to help venues, including a freeze on VAT at 12.5%, rather than moving forward with the planned increase to 20%.

Furthermore, the NTIA is urging for sector-specific grants and the return of the furlough scheme for the first quarter of next year.

Kill added: “It is vital that the government and in particular the chancellor recognise the impact of the government’s public health messaging and swiftly implement proportionate financial support to ensure businesses and jobs are protected during this extremely challenging period.

“The chancellor may be wary of stumping up the cash but this will be better for the economy in the long run than putting businesses at risk of failing. Night-time economy businesses are social hubs in the heart of communities across the UK – you simply cannot ‘level up’ the country if a swathe of them are lost to this pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic, our members and their staff have done their bit to support the national effort, often at enormous personal and professional cost. But the government needs to hold up their end of the bargain. It is economically illiterate and morally wrong if they do not.”

Trade group UK Hospitality also called on the government to provide full business rates relief, grants, rent protection and extended VAT reductions.

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