Around 86,000 jobs were lost in the UK’s night-time cultural economy as a result of the COVID pandemic, according to new research published today by the Night Time Industries Association. The trade group also makes a number of demands of the UK government to protect a sector which, it says, accounted for 1.6% of the country’s GDP prior to the COVID shutdown.
The new report from the NTIA seeks to quantify the economic impact of the wider night-time economy – and specifically the night-time cultural economy, so night-time businesses driven by cultural and leisure activities – prior to COVID-19 and the lockdown measures that forced many of those companies to shutdown completely and/or operate at limited capacity over a sixteen month period. It then also looks at the impact those lockdown measures have had and the challenges ahead as the night-time sector slowly swings back into action.
According to the group’s figures, the vale of the UK’s night-time cultural economy in 2019 was £36.4 billion – or 1.6% of GDP – and the sector also generated 425,000 jobs. Since the sector’s 2019 high, some 86,000 jobs have been lost, it then states.
“[These] revelations have implications for the wider economy’s recovery from the pandemic, with clear evidence of significant economic ‘scarring'”, says the NTIA. “While the government is portraying shortages in many sectors as being ‘transitional’ on the path to a high wage economy, there are fears that many of the jobs lost to the pandemic in the night time economy sector will lost for good, with businesses closing and persistently lower demand for services”.
The trade group also says that its research further backs its argument that the COVID Passport schemes put in place by the Scottish and Welsh governments – whereby clubs and some other venues are obliged to check a customer’s COVID vaccination status at the door – are unjustifiable. Although a similar scheme in England was abandoned, ministers have said it could still be introduced over the winter if future surges in the coronavirus lead to a spike in hospitalisations.
Commenting on the new report, NTIA CEO Michael Kill says: “We are pleased to be able to present today this important and timely piece of work quantifying, for the first time, the size of the night-time economy in the UK. Important, because in my 25 year career working in UK nightlife, it has always struck me as so odd that we did not have a proper accounting of the value of this important sector. Today’s report puts that right, and is long overdue”.
Linking the report to COVID Passports, he adds: “It’s timely because at this moment, governments in Scotland and Wales are pressing ahead with chaotic vaccine passport plans, and the UK government refuses to rule out their use in England. It is the worst possible time to introduce vaccine passports, which will further damage a sector essential to the economic recovery”.
Meanwhile, Kill says, the report also justifies the UK government providing new COVID-related support to night-time business. “It is crucial the Chancellor use the upcoming budget to support this beleaguered sector”, he argues. “We are calling for him to extend the 12.5% rate of VAT on hospitality until 2024, include door sales in that reduced rate of VAT, because the present system punishes nightclubs that rely on door sales rather than selling tickets, and for him to ensure there are no increases in alcohol duties – our sector really cannot afford any additional burdens”
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