Sadiq Khan criticises government bailout package for venues saying it “will barely touch the sides”

"It does not go nearly far enough"

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has criticised the latest government bail out package for venues.

Earlier today (December 21), the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, brought forward a £1billion support package for businesses affected by COVID-19.

In a statement, Khan said “while any support is welcome, the package of support announce today by the Chancellor will barely touch the sides.”

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He continued: “It does not go nearly far enough towards providing the level of support our world-renowned retail, hospitality, nightlife and cultural sectors need at what should be their busiest time of the year. To put this in context, closing a West End show for a week can cost over £250,000 while a Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) members survey has indicated an average loss in takings of £46,000 per venue in the run-up to Christmas.


“The devastating truth is that a £6,000 grant to compensate for losses made in the golden quarter is a drop in the ocean and grants alone will not be enough to keep businesses afloat, especially if – as many expect – further restrictive measures are forthcoming. These businesses have a genuine fear for their futures and it is essential for both business continuity and consumer confidence that Ministers provide clarity about whether restrictions will persist or are likely to be tightened further.
“At a critical time for retail, hospitality and leisure, we need a comprehensive package of measures which provide full business rates relief, extension of the VAT relief scheme, and a substantial increase in direct grant funding to support hospitality, night time and cultural venues who were counting on a rise in income over the Christmas period to help see them through the lean winter months.
“The Chancellor has said nothing on support for freelancers and gig economy workers, or of the targeted reintroduction of the furlough scheme to protect those workers who will see their incomes plummet. Ministers must act now to ensure that more jobs are not permanently lost.”

The Chancellor’s measures were also criticised by the Music Venue Trust who released a statement following news of the package, calling it “a woefully inadequate response to the reality of the position.”

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) and the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) issued a joint statement saying they too were “massively concerned” that the new measures still have “nothing for artists and live industry professionals” who are being affected by the pandemic.

Speaking to NME earlier this year, MVT CEO Mark Davyd said that “the grassroots music venue sector is more than £90million in debt. The average debt they’re emerging with is around £80,000-£120,000 per venue – some are in much more significant debt than that.”

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“The damage is already done and there is no point pretending otherwise. Today’s statement by The Treasury is not the answer that is needed,” said the MVT.

The MVT then called for The Secretary of State for Culture to “meet with the sector, properly understand the scale of the damage being inflicted, and return to the Treasury with a financial ask that reflects what is required.”

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