Music industry pleads for clarity on date for return of live concerts

Britains nightlife industry is at risk of extinction unless it gets more government support to survive the coronavirus pandemic, Boris Johnson has been warned.
The warning came as the UK music industry issued a plea for the prime minister to name a date for the return of live concerts and festivals, with representatives warning that many of the organisations which put on shows will fold, at a cost of thousands of jobs, unless they get clarity about the future.
Mr Johnson has signalled that rapid-turnaround Covid testing will be used to allow venues like nightclubs and concert halls to admit customers.
With increasing evidence of the success of vaccinations in driving down coronavirus infections, he is coming under intense pressure from Tory MPs to announce the return of entertainment for the crucial summer season. Mr Johnson is due to set out a roadmap for the ending of lockdown on Monday.
More than 40 MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Night Time Economy today published a report warning that lockdown and social-distancing restrictions such as the rule of six limit on social gatherings and requirements for meals to be served with drinks had left the sector on its knees.
Based on more than 20,000 responses from consumers, employers, employees, and freelancers in the sector, the survey found that 37 per cent of night-time economy workers have been made redundant, 78 per cent have been put on furlough at some point and 85 per cent are considering leaving the industry. Businesses recorded an average of just 28 per cent of pre-Covid turnover in the second half of 2020, and only 36 per cent of self-employed nightlife workers were able to claim from the governments main support scheme. 
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The report called for the extension of furlough until nightlife businesses like bars, pubs, music venues and clubs are able to operate without restrictions, as well as the extension of VAT and business rate relief for the sector to the end of 2021.
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The government should appoint a night-time economy adviser and provide a sector-specific support package, the report said, with state-backed insurance schemes, solutions to rent arrears and a Treasury-backed Eat Out to Help Out-style scheme to boost demand when restrictions are lifted. With 60 per cent of town-centre revenue generated after 6pm, a vibrant nightlife scene will be vital to restoring the fortunes of urban centres, the report said.
The groups chair Jeff Smith, a Labour MP and former DJ, warned that the loss of nightlife venues would leave a massive hole in local economies and communities.
Our world-leading night clubs, pubs, bars, and live music venues are cornerstones of our communities, said the Manchester Withington MP. 
They drive so much economic activity both locally and nationally, and bring hope, joy and entertainment to millions across the UK. 
Our findings today reveal this industry is on its knees, in desperate need of additional support from the government and a concrete plan for reopening. Without these interventions, many of these viable businesses will go under, leaving city and town centres resembling ghost towns. If the government is serious about its levelling up agenda, it must act now to save this sector and avoid untold damage to the social fabric of this country.
The chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, Michael Kill, said despite the devastating impact of the virus on a £66bn industry employing 1.3 million, the sectors needs have so far not been addressed by the government.
Every day I speak with the dedicated people that make up this industry from artists to engineers, bar staff to security, and production to promoters, said Mr Kill. They have shown great resilience in the face of adversity.
But resilience only gets you so far without the required support. We need more assistance and a detailed plan for reopening now. Otherwise, much of what defines a night out in the UK will be lost forever.
Meanwhile, UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin called on Mr Johnson to include live music in his roadmap out of Covid-19 on Monday.
The imposed shutdown of vast swathes of the industry for almost a year has put thousands of jobs at risk in a sector that provides work for 200,000 people and contributes £5.8bn a year to the UK economy, said Mr Njoku-Goodwin.
Government financial support should continue for as long as the live music sector is prevented from operating because of public health restrictions, he said.
We are fast reaching a critical point for the live music industry, warned Mr Njoku-Goodwin. If festivals and large events are forced to cancel for another year, many will go under and thousands of jobs are at risk of being lost forever.
We are not asking to reopen a moment before it is safe to do so, but if our sector is to survive through this pandemic then we require urgent clarity about the months ahead and some indication of when live music will be able to return.
A firm restart date for live music would be hugely welcome, given the long lead time involved in planning festivals and tours, but at the very least the sector needs clarity about the conditions under which we would be allowed to get live events under way again, he said.
Live music will play a key part in the UKs post-pandemic recovery, bringing economic benefits to communities across the country and driving business for hotels, taxi firms, restaurants and bars, said the UK Music boss.
The vaccination rollout has been a huge success and case rates are going in the right direction but without certainty about when live music will be allowed to operate again, many businesses and organisations in our sector and the wider supply chain will struggle to survive.
Lucy Powell, shadow business minister, said: These businesses are vital parts of the hospitality and tourism ecosystem, helping our towns and cities prosper and thrive.
The failure of government to provide adequate support through lockdown and reopening threatens the future of many. When the prime minister stands up to announce his roadmap he must give businesses the certainty they need to survive and thrive.