Grim warning of high cost to hospitality industry if easing restrictions is delayed

Sacha Lord

The Night Time Industry Association (NTIA) claims that a quarter of businesses in the hospitality sector could close within weeks if the planned easing of lockdown restrictions does not happen on June 21.

It follows a flash survey by the organisation, which includes Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser, Sacha Lord.

Following leaks that the Prime Minister is expected to announce a delay in the proposed ‘unlocking’ of pandemic measures on June 21, the NTIA generated a flash poll to give an indication of the current impact and estimated impact of a delay on the sector.

Businesses remain resilient but the NTIA says they cannot hide the devastation a decision to delay will have on the sector, leaving many businesses, employees and freelancers on a financial cliff edge.

The survey of 300 night time economy businesses revealed that:

  • One in four businesses will not survive longer than one month without further government support and 50% no longer than two months
  • 54% of businesses have spent more than £15,000 in preparation for reopening on June 21, already, and 17.8% have spent more than £40,000
  • One in five businesses estimate they will lose more than £40,000 per week in revenue while restricted from trading or closed due to the delay in the June 21 easing of lockdown
  • 58% of businesses estimate they will lose more than £10,000 per week in revenue while restricted from trading or closed due to the delay in the easing of lockdown
  • 33% of businesses estimate they will lose more than 30% of their workforce due to the delay in the easing of lockdown on June 21

NTIA chief executive, Michael Kill, said: “Night time economy businesses have waited patiently for their opportunity to open for over 15 months, many have not survived, some are on a financial cliff edge, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, a huge pool of talent has been swept away and others have been left to suffer extreme financial hardship

“We should not underestimate the importance of the 21st June to these businesses, employees, entertainers and freelancers, a day when they should be given back their opportunity to trade, regain their livelihoods, careers, social well being and the day that the Government is due to give culture back to the UK”

He added: “Many of these businesses and individuals have adapted, overcome and survived for an exceptional length of time with the bare bones of support, and have arrived at this opportunity to find that it could be ripped away from them.

“Any delay will drive confidence in the sector to a new low, culminating in workforce leaving the sector, and customers who are starved of social engagement, attending illegal unregulated events in place of businesses that are well operated, licensed and regulated.”

He said many businesses are overburdened with debt, so any decision to delay will make them heavily reliant on the Government to extend financial support and relief, including additional restriction grants, exclusion from furlough contributions, extension of loan repayment holiday for CBILS/BBS as well as business rates and VAT relief for the next 12 months, not forgetting the £2.6bn in commercial rent debt left unresolved.

Michael Kill

“The Government must understand the human impact of this decision, not only considering the public health challenges of the virus but also the people within our sector who are suffering terribly and the real health risks that this represents, given the overwhelming confidence in the vaccination roll-out, and the ability for the sector to deliver COVID-safe environments.

“Distressed industries cannot continue to be held in limbo as businesses are left to fall, any decision to delay without clarity on when they can open will leave us no other option but to challenge the Government, standing alongside many other industries who have been locked down or restricted from opening for an extreme length of time, through no fault of their own, and at their own cost.”

The NTIA is calling on the Government to extend the Restriction Grant for Businesses, extend CBILS/BBS loans repayment holiday, extend the forfeiture moratorium until the end of 2021, extend Business Rates relief, extend VAT relief at five per cent, and for events and festival insurance cover.

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