In Brief

‘Financial armageddon’: darkness falls on Scotland’s night-time economy

Sector is in ruins with hundreds of businesses on the verge of collapse

Scotland’s night-time economy is facing “financial armageddon” due to the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of jobs set to be axed and hundreds of businesses struggling to survive.

More than 1.3 million people are employed within the night-time sector in the UK, The Guardian reports, and it contributes £66bn to the UK economy per annum.

However, according to a new study, Scotland’s night-time industry has been hit drastically by the pandemic and is on the verge of collapse with many venues still closed

In a survey of its membership - nightclubs, late night bars and live music venues - Scotland’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIAS) found that 83% of businesses will make staff redundant, while 76% are set to cut more than half of their workforce in a matter of weeks. 

Calls for furlough extension

The NTIAS data also shows that 58% of businesses within Scotland’s night-time economy fear they will not survive longer than two months without further government support. 

With businesses on a “dangerous cliff-edge”, the NTIAS is calling for an extension to the job-retention scheme that is set to end in October. 

Michael Kill, chief executive of the trade body, said: “Without immediate additional help and clear indication of when we can re-open we are facing financial armageddon. These results feel like the final catastrophic blow to the night-time economy and the thousands of staff employed in the sector. 

“Businesses still can’t open their doors and haven’t been given any guidance on when they might be able too. Businesses are being forced to make the heart-breaking decision to let their loyal and hardworking staff go. 

“It’s potentially fatal for the future of the night-time economy, a cornerstone of Scotland’s diverse arts and cultural tapestry. I implore the government to act on this data. 

“Give us a clear roadmap on when businesses can reopen and reassurance that the financial support will be there to keep businesses financially afloat in the coming months.” 

Important economic driver

Donald Macleod, CEO of Hold Fast Entertainment, which owns Scotland’s largest nightclub, The Garage, has also called on the government to provide more support. 

“Let no-one forget, least of all the Scottish Government, that Scotland’s night-time economy is a hugely important economic driver of music and cultural tourism, leisure, and business growth for our towns and cities, as well as a major national employer,” he said.

“As a sector we were amongst the first to close and will probably be the last to reopen. It is only right therefore, to avoid thousands of job losses and hundreds of businesses from going under, that it is treated on a par as our other art and industry sectors.

“It must be given the emergency Scottish Government funding it so urgently requires in order to survive.”

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