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“Hundreds of thousands of businesses and jobs” will be lost without further COVID support, says NTIA

By | Published on Monday 25 January 2021

Houses Of Parliament

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing calls to commit to extend COVID-19 support schemes all the way to the end of the year. The Night Time Industries Association says that this is necessary in order to “save hundreds of thousands of businesses and jobs” in the live entertainment and night time sectors, and should be put in place before the next budget announcement in March.

“Urgent action is needed from the Chancellor to extend the current furlough and self-employed provision, as well as extend the business rates holiday and VAT relief for wet led sales businesses until the end of 2021, to save hundreds of thousands of businesses and jobs, before he sets the budget”, say NTIA CEO Michael Kill.

“A huge proportion of businesses will not survive past February, and we are currently losing an estimated 40 businesses a week with over 650,000 jobs lost already, and further job losses when furlough comes to an end in March”, he goes on. “Businesses are under an immense amount of pressure to manage their workforce and their financial commitments without any foresight, they are in desperate need of a clear long term strategy in their fight to survive the pandemic”.

This comes after the government announced last week that music venues and other arts businesses would be given until the end of July to spend any money they previously received as part of the Culture Recovery Fund. The terms of that funding originally required unspent money to be returned at the end of April.

That development came amid fears that, despite the roll out of COVID vaccines, many businesses will still be affected by the pandemic well into the summer. And if that’s true, more specific funding for the cultural sector may be required, in addition to any extension of the general COVID schemes.

UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin made a statement to that effect last week after the 2021 Glastonbury festival was cancelled.

“It is absolutely critical that the government look at more financial support for the music industry and those who work in it as a matter of urgency”, he said. “Without more government help, there is a real risk that some of our world-leading music scene will disappear forever”.

“The music industry is desperate to get back on its feet when we can operate safely”, he went on. “When the time comes for the post-pandemic recovery, we can play our role in our country’s economic and cultural revival. But until that point, we need more financial support to keep us going”.

The cultural and night-time industries will not be the only sectors calling for further support as the pandemic continues, of course. And now the government is also having to bail out businesses failing due to Brexit. So, it remains to be seen how much Sunak is willing to find in order to keep companies and people afloat.

The budget announcement is schduled for 3 Mar.