“Throughout this pandemic our industry has been confronted with an ever-changing landscape, irrational guidelines, restrictions that have no scientific foundation.
We are to be thankful in some respects that we have the strength and depth of entrepreneurial spirit across our sector, or we may have not survived as long as this.
Since the start of this pandemic, businesses, owners, operators, bars staff, DJs and so on, have gone over and above to serve others within the community, working alongside other sectors to support and galvanise in a true sense of togetherness.
We have not only worked within communities, but when asked to create Covid safe environments within our businesses, we invested in the Government’s guidance and created some of the safest spaces for people to continue to enjoy social experiences, albeit with limitations.
In just over a week we will be entering the eighth month of this crisis, and in all honesty for our sector, we are harbouring a catastrophic crisis both economically and culturally. With the recent implementation of curfews and untenable restrictions which really are, almost impossible to police, it seems for almost all within the recent Tier 2 guidelines, that the Government are systematically closing us down.
We recently surveyed over 800 businesses within our membership, to attempt to generate an understanding of the current economic situation for businesses.
Businesses were asked at what level they were trading before lockdown, but prior the implementation of the curfew and tier system, compared to the previous year.
72% of businesses were trading at 60% of capacity pre curfew and new tier restrictions. However, these restrictions drove a further 60% decline in trade leaving businesses unviable.
61% of the businesses surveyed had already started making redundancies, over 45% were making over 60% of their workforce redundant, with 90% having no confidence in the Government to be able to invest in the future.
We are undoubtedly at a crossroads, where many who have lost their life’s work and talented people who have had to begrudgingly reskill to survive rather than be valued, supported and protected as an important part of our economy and culture.
Considerable concerns remain over the future of the night-time economy, with many of the surviving businesses and staff concerned about how they will survive the winter.
Most businesses and workers in the sector remain desperate and frustrated, with no sector-specific support or Government understanding of the underlying issues the industry is facing or the financial implications of closures for the future of culture.
The introduction of the Job Support Scheme and £3,000 monthly grant for businesses under local lockdown is insufficient and, for many, too little too late. This is in no way reflective of the costs that are being incurred by businesses in our sector and will do nothing to alleviate the significant financial burdens they are under.
We need sector specific support, a robust package which includes protection for our staff and freelancers, a direct cash injection (not a loan), a commercial rent solution and we need a roadmap to re-open so we may plan. But more than anything, we need our sector to be valued!”