Rishi Sunak was today urged to come to the aid of Britain's Covid-hit 'night-time economy' with a £4.5 billion rescue fund.
Representatives of nightclubs, music venues and bars joined with MPs to warn the Chancellor that without help the sector 'will all but collapse'.
In a letter to Mr Sunak, they said that would have a 'devastating impact' as the sector was worth £66 billion a year and was 'integral to the economic and cultural life of our nation'.
They acknowledged the 'unprecedented interventions' the Chancellor had already made to support the economy and the wider hospitality sector through measures including the furlough scheme and business rates relief.
Rishi Sunak was today urged to come to the aid of Britain's Covid-hit 'night-time economy' with a £4.5 billion rescue fund. Pictured: The nightclub Cafe de Paris near Piccadilly Circus, London, announced it would shut down permanently in December last year
But they warned that 'significant parts' of the night-time economy – businesses that operate between 6pm and 6am – had 'fallen through the cracks of the support already offered'.
They raised fears that 400,000 of the sector's 1.3 million workers had already been made redundant. 'In the past nine months, our viable nightlife sector has been obliterated,' they said, adding: 'Many businesses in the sector have been totally closed since March 2020 with no meaningful opportunity to open and trade. Those that have been able to trade have operated under serious restrictions on capacity, opening hours and wet [drink] sales.'
They added that 'freelancers and sole traders in our sector have been excluded from financial packages and closed nightlife businesses are still suffering from debilitating debts and overheads'. That meant the sector was 'in desperate need of targeted support and funding beyond measures already provided'.
In a letter to Mr Sunak, they said that would have a 'devastating impact' as the sector was worth £66 billion a year and was 'integral to the economic and cultural life of our nation'
They called for a grant scheme understood to amount to £4.5 billion over the next six months.
The Chancellor was also urged to extend the furlough scheme, business rates relief and reduced VAT as well as provide a 'roadmap to recovery for our sector'.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night-Time Industries Association, said: 'We have been told that we will be one of the last sectors to be allowed to open its doors. We need a Budget that is focused on rescue and regeneration, not recuperation.'
Labour MP Jeff Smith, chairman of the night-time economy all-party parliamentary group, warned that if the sector was allowed to collapse 'it would rip the heart out of our town and city centres' and leave 'a gaping hole in the economy and the social lives of millions'.