Research has estimated that 393,000 jobs have been lost across the night-time economy due to Covid-19, including 86,000 in the “night-time cultural economy” (NTCE), which includes nightclubs and theatres.
The research, commissioned by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and conducted by leisure consultants CGA and night-time economy researchers Make, found that the sector in the UK – encompassing restaurants, bars, casinos, cultural venues and more – had been steadily growing over the last decade, reaching a peak in 2019. Within that broader sector, the NTCE employed 425,000 people that year, a 12.2% increase since 2010, with the sector valued at £36.4bn.
The NTCE had been projected to continue growing, along with the wider night-time industries, at 9% over the period 2020-2024, but has instead suffered job losses as venues were forced to close during the coronavirus crisis.
Michael Kill, head of NTIA, called on the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to extend the reduced 12.5% VAT rate for hospitality businesses until 2024 to help the sector recover, and for the Treasury not to add further duty on alcohol.
He also called on the government not to introduce vaccine passports for entry to night-time events, “which will further damage a sector essential to economic recovery”. The passports are required in Scotland and Wales, and were being readied in the UK before the health secretary, Sajid Javid, announced the plans were being scrapped.
Responding to the NTIA report’s findings, Sacha Lord, an events promoter who is also Manchester’s night-time economy adviser, said: “We’re in a dire position and in order to recover to pre-pandemic levels, we need investment, strategy and most importantly, top-level acknowledgment of the industry’s contribution to the UK economy. Take any city, town or village in the UK, and you’ll find its pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants are central to its recovery. The nightlife scene is critical to our post-Brexit, post-Covid future and economic growth, and to ignore it would be a devastating blow to our cultural reputation.”