Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Advisor has spoken out this morning urging the government to pledge more support to the entertainment venues on the brink of closure.
Sacha Lord has issued an “11th hour” warning as rent holidays, grant schemes and furlough come to an end and has stated that unless urgent further support is provided, nearly three in five businesses in the sector could potentially be at risk of closure by the end of the year.
Mr Lord has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “stop celebrating the return to work while leaving others out in the cold”.
It comes after a significant number of restaurants, bars, pubs, music and other entertainment venues across Greater Manchester and the rest of the UK have fallen victim to economic struggles amid the coronavirus (COVID) pandemic and have thus had to permanently close doors.
Most notably, two of Manchester’s longest-standing and beloved independent music venues – Deaf Institute and Gorilla – announced back in July that they would be closing down indefinitely after “struggling to see a future” post-COVID, before being saved by at the last minute.
Speaking to Business Live today, Sacha Lord said: “I’m extremely concerned about what will happen in the final quarter and the mental health for all involved.
“For some, August has been strong with the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, but my fear is for those in the wider night time economy who haven’t benefited. Not only the wet-led bars and pubs who weren’t included in the offer, but the night clubs, live music venues and theatres which are still closed.
“Rent holidays have ended, grant schemes are closed, and next month, all furlough support for these businesses will finish, so today, I am pleading with Johnson, [Chancellor Rishi] Sunak and the government to reconsider ongoing support for this sector.”
He also hit out at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the sector – which contributes £66 billion to the economy and employs almost 8% of the UK workforce – during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“It is an embarrassment to watch our Prime Minister buoyant and jovial on TV, peddling unsupported false facts and hailing the great return to work, while ignoring a sector which brings in over £66 billion into the UK economy each year and employs almost 8% of the UK.” he said.
“We have needed strong leadership throughout this global pandemic and we have seen the opposite with u-turn after u-turn.
“While we do need the public to return to city centres, the latest ‘All In, All Together’ campaign slogan to encourage Britain to ‘get back to work’ is shameful, ignorant and insulting to those whose businesses are still closed, and for the workers who are struggling to pay rent and feed their families.”
Mr Lord closed out his statement urging the government to protect businesses into 2021.
He said: “What we need now are serious conversations about how to keep these operators afloat.
“The government must look to protect businesses and prevent severe job losses by following the example of Germany and extending the furlough scheme into 2021 [because] without ongoing support, the heart of British culture scene will be decimated, and by the end of the year, we will see mass closures.
“It is no longer a question of if they will close, but when.”
Manchester secures £5.2m funding to build ‘supported accommodation’ for rough sleepers
Manchester has secured a whopping £5.2 million in funding to build new ‘supported accommodation’ designed to house rough sleepers.
After an application submitted to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP) has been approved this week, Manchester City Council says it’s eager to help the former homeless “rebuild their lives”.
This means that, by working in partnership with housing and support providers Humankind, Jigsaw, and Great Places, the Council will oversee the creation of 42 units of supported housing across three different schemes.
The schemes are for single people with a history of rough sleeping and longer-term support needs.
According to the Council, these people will stay in this accommodation and receive personalised support until they are ready to “take the next step to independent living”.
This new £5.2 million funding allocation from the Government covers both the cost of creating the accommodation – which must be completed by March 2025 at the latest – and revenue funding to help run it for its first three years of opening.
“We are working with a range of partners to tackle the homelessness challenge on all fronts, from prevention in the first place to helping people into permanent, settled homes,” explained Cllr Joanna Midgley, who is the Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council.
“Securing this £5.2m funding for the city will help us create much-needed extra accommodation for those being helped off the streets who need significant long-term support before they are ready to live independently.
“It’s only part of a wider response but it will be a welcome addition to the accommodation and support available.”
The news of the successful application comes after the Council published its plan to get rough sleepers off the streets of Manchester and into temporary accommodation this winter back in early November.
With temperatures expected to reach as low as -5C by Friday, 29 November, the Met Office and UKHSA pushed out an amber heat-health alert on Wednesday, with the elderly, clinically vulnerable and the health sector in general said to be those most at risk.
Although the freezing weather obviously has the potential to affect everyone — with the likes of the North East and Northern Ireland having already been given a yellow weather warning as well — amber heat-health warnings are deemed to require an ‘enhanced response‘ as they are likely to significantly impact “across the whole health service” and possibly other sectors too.
Under the relatively new CHA (cold-health alert) system, anything beyond a yellow level alert means that it is expected that there will be increased use of healthcare services by vulnerable populations and an increase in risk to health to individuals over the age of 65, those with pre-existing health conditions, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and other vulnerable groups like rough sleepers.
As well as the Met Office offering their verdict, the UKHSA’s Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection, Dr Agostinho Sousa, said: “With a risk of widespread overnight frosts and some snow across the country this week, it’s important to check in on the wellbeing of those most vulnerable to the cold.
“Cold weather can have a serious impact on health, particularly older people, and those with pre-existing health conditions, as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.
“If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 65, it is important to try and heat the rooms where you spend most of your time in[doors], such as your living room or bedroom.”
For those considered to be at risk during this cold snap and amber-heat health warning, the official government-sanctioned advice is that if you can’t heat all the rooms in your home, it is important to heat the rooms you spend the (i.e. living room in the day and bedroom before going to sleep) to at least 18 degrees if possible.
They also recommend wearing a few thin layers instead of one thick layer, as the former is better at trapping heat than just one big jumper etc.
Other advice on how to stay safe during these colder periods includes stocking up on food and medicine, keeping windows closed and reducing draughts at home, as well as getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, you can get in touch with the NHS on 111 and if it is an emergency please call 999 immediately.