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Withington MP leads bipartisan message to PM: act now to save UK nightlife

Cross-party MPs urged the Chancellor and Prime Minister to take action to save the night-time economy which has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Night-Time Economy, published a report which warned that urban centres would become ghost towns without government help.   

The group, made up of 39 MPs and two members of the House of Lords, made several recommendations for the government to help the sector recover.   

Jeff Smith MP, Chair of the APPG, said: “Our world-leading night clubs, pubs, bars, and live music venues are cornerstones of our communities.

“If the Government is serious about its ‘levelling up’ agenda it must act now to save this sector and avoid untold damage to the social fabric of this country.”

IN THE SHADOW OF A LOCKDOWN: Can Manchester’s pubs bounce back after closures?

The report found that 85% of people working in the night-time economy are considering leaving the industry.

Additionally, in the second half of 2020, businesses in the sector traded at an average of 28% of their annualised pre-Covid turnover.

Night-time economy businesses have seen several obstacles and restrictions on their ability to trade, including curfews, social distancing measures, and the ‘substantial meal’ rule.

Businesses have faced significant costs in adapting to meet new conditions, and many, including a majority of nightclubs, have been unable to trade at all.

The inquiry examined written submissions from businesses and local authorities, including the Greater Manchester Authority.

Greater Manchester has been in a national lockdown or under tier three restrictions for seven of the last 11 months.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “We need more assistance and a detailed plan for reopening now.

“Otherwise, much of what defines a night out in the UK will be lost forever.”

The reports’ recommendations included extending the furlough scheme, expanding eligibility for the culture recovery fund, and tackling commercial rent arrears.

A spokesperson for 42nd Street Nightclub, Manchester said: “We have received no rent relief, and this is probably what will kill the business as I don’t believe we would be able to open before the end of June and, without financial support, we will run out of funds before then.”

Many hospitality venues in Manchester have closed since last March, as overheads and loss of income made shutting down the only viable option.

Earth Café, a vegan restaurant which had a presence in the Northern Quarter since the 1990s closed in August.

Nationally, roughly 10,000 licensed premises closed permanently last year, including almost 2500 pubs.

Already an industry in decline, the rate of pub closures more than doubled since 2019.

A statement from the National Pub Chain said: “The short notice imposed by Government to close venues demonstrates the lack of understanding of the complexities of the supply chain.

“The challenge of un-furloughing staff for them to be re-furloughed at short notice is demoralising, unsettling and offers no security or comfort in the security of their role.”

The APPG was formed of Labour, Conservative, SNP, Liberal Democrat, Green, and independent MPs, as well as a Lord and Baroness from the House of Lords.

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