Greater Manchester’s night-time economy adviser Sacha Lord has warned that “three out of five Manchester night-time businesses will go bust” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lord, who is urging the government to provide more targeted support for the sector, has described Boris Johnson’s recent television appearances as “an embarrassment”, warning that attentions need to be turned to those industries that have had to remain closed.
“It is an embarrassment to watch our Prime Minister buoyant and jovial on TV, peddling unsupported false facts and hailing the great return to work, while ignoring a sector which brings in over £66 billion into the UK economy each year and employs almost eight per cent of the UK,” he told the Manchester Evening News.
“We have needed strong leadership throughout this global pandemic and we have seen the opposite with u-turn after u-turn.
“While we do need the public to return to city centres, the latest ‘All In, All Together’ campaign slogan to encourage Britain to ‘get back to work’ is shameful, ignorant and insulting to those whose businesses are still closed, and for the workers who are struggling to pay rent and feed their families.”
Going on to discuss the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which has been a success for many hospitality businesses, Lord has pointed out that it hasn’t helped the operators behind nightclubs, theatres and wet-led pubs.
“I’m extremely concerned about what will happen in the final quarter and the mental health for all involved,” he said. “For some, August has been strong with the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, but my fear is for those in the wider night-time economy who haven’t benefited. Not only the wet-led bars and pubs who weren’t included in the offer, but the night clubs, live music venues and theatres which are still closed.
“Rent holidays have ended, grant schemes are closed, and next month, all furlough support for these businesses will finish, so today, I am pleading with Johnson, Sunak and the Government to reconsider ongoing support for this sector.”
He added: “What we need now are serious conversations about how to keep these operators afloat. The Government must look to protect businesses and prevent severe job losses by following the example of Germany and extending the furlough scheme into 2021.
“Without ongoing support, the heart of British culture scene will be decimated, and by the end of the year, we will see mass closures.”
He concluded: “It is no longer a question of if they will close, but when.”
Lord’s comments come after the government was urged to provide a clearer idea on when nightclubs can re-open in the UK, after coronavirus restrictions forced their widespread closure.
While pubs and bars were able to re-open in the UK from July, thousands of nightclub owners still remain in the dark about when they will be able to welcome punters again.
Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill has said he feels that the government don’t really understand the unique challenges that nightclubs face as part of the music scene.
“It’s almost like nightclubs are the elephant in the room and they don’t know how to deal with it”, Kill told NME. “The discussions have been very open and we’ve had some very direct questions to government, but there almost seems to be this lack of understanding.”