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NTIA accuses UK government of intentionally seeking to “shut down dancefloors”

By | Published on Monday 3 April 2023

Night Time Industries Association

The Night Time Industries Association has accused the UK government of intentionally seeking to “shut down dancefloors and stages across the country”.

The trade group’s latest criticism of the government was made as an energy relief scheme that was introduced last October came to an end. A replacement initiative offers a much lower level of support for businesses dealing with surging energy prices.

With clubs, venues and other night-time businesses still recovering from the COVID shutdown period and facing other economic challenges, the NTIA and other live music trade groups have been repeatedly calling for additional support from government.

“From today these businesses will be in for the fight of their lives”, the NTIA said in a statement on Friday, “with the government energy relief scheme due to end. The national minimum wage is also due to increase from the 1 Apr and, with operating costs estimated to go up by over 100% over the coming months, the trading environment is becoming untenable”.

“It is now becoming very clear”, the statement continued, “that the government has spent the last three years intentionally trying to close nightclubs and venues, attempting to shut down dancefloors and stages across the country”.

Noting the many challenges faced by venues and other night-time businesses, the NTIA went on: “With one nightclub lost every three days, just 870 nightclubs remain in the UK today, down from 1446 in 2019. When you step back and look at the journey and treatment of the industry … you have to question why they have been treated so harshly by the government at such a critical time, given our considerable contributions to UK plc”.

“These businesses contribute billions to HMRC and local authorities in taxation, but have seen very little support from the government in return”, the statement continued. They are also playing a key role in the recovery of their respective local economies, it added, and have “a great importance within communities beyond the dancefloor”.

NTIA boss Michael Kill said: “Nightclubs are a British institution, and are the bridge for many consumers to counter culture, a platform for artists new and old to perform and access audiences, for people to dance and socialise, supporting their physical, social and mental well-being”.

“The current government has never recognised the value of this sector, and will continue to undermine its importance, as it did in the late 80s when the scene came together to fight for the ‘freedom to dance’”.

“Our European counterparts work hard to recognise the value and importance of clubs and venues and lead the way in support and true collaboration. While the UK sees one of its greatest exports as a burden on policing and local government”.

“Over the coming months”, he went on, “we will see the impacts of government inaction take hold, and many important night-time economy businesses will be lost”.

“Intentionally shutting down our dancefloors, ignoring the immediate issue and accepting the losses is not an acceptable approach, and will have a considerable impact on the future of the sector, but will not be forgotten”.

He then concluded: “It is inevitable that we will see a growing anger and frustration amongst the industry and supporters to take direct action, and we will be standing with them”.