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NTIA criticises Spring Statement: “The sector is in a fragile situation”

The Nighttime Industries Association says the government has failed to do enough for the sector in today's statement

By Nick Reilly

A crowd in a nightclub enjoy a DJ set
(Picture: Pexels)

The Nighttime Industries Association (NTIA) has criticised the government after details of the Spring Statement were unveiled in Parliament.

Today (March 23) saw Chancellor Rishi Sunak announce key financial pledges for the year ahead, including a cut on fuel duty by 5p per litre until March 2023 in the face of a growing cost crisis.

Other pledges include local authorities receiving another £500m for the Household Support Fund from April, allowing the creation of a £1bn fund to aid vulnerable households with a rise in living costs.

Elsewhere,the income threshold for the point at which people start paying National Insurance will rise to £12,570 in July, which Mr Sunak claimed to be said a tax cut for employees that is worth over £330 a year.

But the new pledges have been criticised by the NTIA, which provides a voice for the nightclub and venue sector.

In a statement, CEO Michael Kill said the statement provided little regard for venues that are continuing to feel the financial effects of closing their doors during the pandemic.

“Today marks two years to the day since we went into lockdown and nightlife businesses were forced to close,” said Kill.

“Though you wouldn’t know the hell that these businesses have gone through in those two years from today’s statement, which lacked the kind of support the sector needs if it is to fully recover from the pandemic amid an unprecedented cost of living crisis.”

Discussing the growing cost of living crisis, Kill added: “Millions of consumers are quite clearly going to struggle to pay household bills over the coming months, which will have a direct impact on our industry, particularly independant and SME businesses across the UK. 

“It’s also important to be clear about what cost inflation means for businesses in the Night Time Economy: many are likely to reach a tipping point in the next 12 months as they face a perfect storm of challenges. These include the fact that nightlife continues to trade below pre pandemic levels; that businesses face debt hangovers from the pandemic; all coupled with soaring cost inflation.

“What should have been a key period to in part recover losses last Christmas was hampered by the fiasco in the message on socialising being communicated by the Government. This has left the sector in a fragile situation as it looks to rebuild, and will mean that much public money that has been spent keeping viable businesses afloat will be wasted if they go under.”

Concluding, Kill criticised the government for failing to extend VAT & business rates reliefs that had previously been in place during the pandemic.

It is for all these reasons that we called on the Chancellor before the Spring Statement to produce a package that included an extension of VAT & business rates reliefs, a cancellation of the proposed NI hike, and action on businesses energy bills and fuel duty, to allow the sector financial headroom to survive in something resembling its pre pandemic form. It is very disappointing that today he took none of these steps,” he said.

While not specifically referencing nighttime venues, today’s Spring Statement also saw an increase in The Employment Allowance, which gives relief to smaller businesses’ National Insurance payments. This will rise from £4,000 to £5,000 from April.

A business rates discount will also help small businesses in retail, hospitality, and leisure by receiving a 50% discount on their business rates bill, up to £110,000.

The government is yet to respond to the NTIA’s concerns.