MPs are set to compile a report investigating the impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s nighttime economy.
The investigation, carried out by the newly-formed All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Night Time Economy, comes after the government was urged to provide further financial support to nightclubs during the coronavirus pandemic, amid warnings that 75 per cent of clubs could face serious hardship during the latest lockdown.
The stark warning from the Nighttime Industries Association (NTIA) came hours after the whole of the UK was placed into lockdown for a minimum of six weeks, amid rising death rates from COVID-19.
The APPG Chair, Jeff Smith MP said of the forthcoming report, which is set to be conducted this month and released in February: “As we move now into a third national lockdown, there has never been a more important time for government to address the urgent needs of night time economy businesses, their supply chains and those that rely on them for employment,” said Smith.
“Despite playing such a vital role in our local communities and UK economy, nightlife businesses have been repeatedly overlooked by the government, and we are determined to ensure that the specific challenges facing the sector are addressed. This inquiry will be a vital first step in our work.”
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, added: “Since March, we have seen the night-time sector berated, scapegoated and even blamed for rising infections.
“Our sector has slipped through the cracks of insufficient support packages and borne the brunt of ever-changing and inconsistent restrictions. We urge all those who work in the night-time economy, or simply enjoy a night out, to take part in the APPG survey to help policymakers understand the importance of our vital sector.”
While iconic nightclubs such as Fabric in London were among those to celebrate receiving millions from the government’s £1.57billion Cultural Recovery Fund – which has helped save hundreds of venues forced to remain closed due to COVID for months ahead –many more were denied funding and were left feeling that the Arts Council considered them to be “culturally insignificant” due to their rejection.
Kill told NME that the NTIA were working with the government to explore future funding, as well as ways to reopen clubs safely. He also encouraged music fans to donate to their cause and write to their MP to ask for support using this automated form. Unless something changes soon, hundreds of clubs face immediate danger of being closed forever.
“We are still on course to lose three quarters of the workforce from night time economy venues, and that’s certain if the government comes back with more tiered restrictions like we had before,” Kill told NME. “Our biggest concern at the moment is nightclubs becoming systematically extinct by the government’s ignorance and lack of narrative around the night time economy. That becomes a cultural issue and an economic issue.”