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NTIA welcomes extension of ‘forfeiture moratorium’ and launch of night-time economy APPG

By | Published on Thursday 10 December 2020

Night Time Industries Association

The Night Time Industries Association has welcomed the temporary extension of a COVID-19 restriction that stops landlords evicting businesses from commercial property over unpaid rent, although adds that a more long-term solution is also needed.

As part of the Coronavirus Act 2020 in March, landlords in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were temporarily prevented from forfeiting commercial leases where the leaseholders were in rents arrears. Initially in place until 30 Jun, that measure was then extended to the end of the year.

Earlier this week the NTIA urged the government to instigate another extension, warning that many bars, clubs, music venues and other night-time enterprises were behind on rent payments because of the ongoing pandemic, and without the so called ‘forfeiture moratorium’ being extended many of those companies could be forced out of business by their landlords in the new year.

Yesterday, the forfeiture moratorium was extended to the end of March 2021. NTIA boss Michael Kill welcomed that decision, but said the temporary extension “still does not address the underlying issues of rent arrears and ongoing rent solution”.

“Business owners will continue to take on further rent debt through this period, which will inevitably compromise their future”, he explained. “This requires government intervention, and will require lead departments to use this period to address these issues and look at potential solutions where the stakeholders share the burden of debt from rent arrears”.

The NTIA – like all trade groups for the music and event industries – has had to really ramp up its lobbying efforts this year as a result of COVID-19, with the ‘forfeiture moratorium’ just one of many measures night-time businesses need the government to put in place to ensure their survival as the pandemic extends. And, as with the ‘forfeiture moratorium’, while a lot has been achieved, much more still needs to be done.

Those lobbying efforts may in future be aided by a new All Party Parliament Group focused on the night-time economy that has just launched. Although APPGs are informal groupings within Parliament, they are generally useful in bringing together parliamentarians with a particular interest in one sector or issue. And to that end, they can be useful for lobbying groups looking to identify supporters, test proposals and instigate debate within Westminster.

The new APPG is being chaired by Jeff Smith MP, who said yesterday: “The night-time sector is hugely important to both the UK economy and our cultural identity. But in the past nine months, it has faced enormous challenges, and thousands of bars, nightclubs, and live events businesses are at risk of collapse”.

“As a former events manager and DJ, I feel strongly about the importance of these businesses, so I am pleased to be chairing the new cross-party group to support night-time industries”, he added. “We will be working hard to ensure that this usually viable, thriving and world-leading sector can not only survive the COVID crisis, but prepare for a prosperous, long-term recovery”.

Welcoming the launch of the new APPG from NTIA’s perspective, Kill added: “It is vitally important that the night-time economy has its own voice, and alongside businesses, associations and participating parliamentarians, we welcome the All Party Parliamentary Group to further support and clarify the challenges around the industry, and help recognise its cultural and economic value both within the UK and internationally”.