finance

Scotland's night time industry "on the verge of collapse"



Scotland’s night time industry association has warned that the industry is on the verge of collapse with 24,000 jobs at risk following the release of the latest update on the exit from restrictions.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has claimed that the majority of night time businesses could permanently close within weeks after running out of money to pay furlough contributions and fixed costs.

The Scottish Government released the latest Strategic Framework update on Friday, which confirmed businesses will be subject to the “commercially unviable levels system of restrictions” despite financial support being withdrawn by the end of April.

The levels system will reintroduce the 10pm curfew, which the NTIA said is “devastating” for its members as most of the revenue is made after this time.

A survey by the NTIA members found that average debt from the pandemic was around £150,000 or more for each premises or business.

It also found that less than a quarter of the premises have licensed outdoor areas with the vast majority of businesses months behind in mortgage or rent payments.

Fewer than a third have been able to trade at sustainable level at any point in the last year and most cannot reopen or trade viably while social distancing remains, it claims.

The survey also found that around 85% of night time businesses say they will not survive if social distancing and activity restrictions continue for most of this year

It also reported that 98% of businesses in this sector say Scottish Government support has not been enough to ensure its survival.

It claims that most of the night time businesses have used all of their financial resources with cash reserves depleted with many unable to borrow more until an opening date is guaranteed.

The NTIA is expecting a large number of insolvencies and job losses unless the Scottish Government provides additional funding for the night time economies, it claims.

It wrote to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier this month highlighting the issues and requesting immediate crisis talks. But, have yet to have a response.

Gavin Stevenson spokesman for the NTIA said: “We were the first to close and will be last to open. No sector has suffered more. But Government have consistently taken our sector for granted and refused to engage meaningfully with our representatives.

“Many of our members have been closed for over a year now, and virtually all have suffered crippling financial losses. In short, the money going out every month has been far greater than the money coming in, and government support has typically covered less than a quarter of this deficit.

“To add insult to injury government support has now ended while there is no end date to forced closure and other restrictions. Scottish Government now only has two options, provide substantial and immediate additional support for as long as it is mandated that our businesses stay closed and/or operate under the restrictions that make them unviable, or provide a clear route map with target dates for the end of all legal restrictions on capacity, activity, and opening hours.

If neither of those options are forthcoming then our First Minister is, in effect, asking thousands of small Scottish business owners to bankrupt themselves.”

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