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.”