Published — 19 October, 2020

Night Time economy


Thank you for contacting me about the night time economy.

I appreciate that it has been a particularly challenging time for many sectors of our economy, including those operating in the night time industry, as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.  I sympathise with anyone who is currently facing redundancy during this difficult time.  Throughout the pandemic I know that the Government has been working with local leaders to target local outbreaks.  However, this has led to different rules in different parts of the country.  I welcome steps being taken by the Government to simplify rules, including through the rule of six, and now through a three tier system of restrictions.

I have spoken with Ministers in detail about the curfew and other measures which are in place.  I understand that they view the 10pm closing time as part of a package of measures that aim to strike a balance between what is reasonable and proportionate to slow the spread of the virus and taking into account usual human behaviour.  I agree with Ministers that it is important to strike the right balance here; however, it must also be stressed that we need to review the effectiveness of restrictive measures regularly.

It is important that when our economy begins to recover, with more businesses reopening and staff returning to work, that there is a welcoming and safe night time economy.  The night time economy is hugely important to our entertainment and culture in the UK and it is the UK’s fifth largest sector.

Moreover, these businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure industries with a rateable value under £51,000 have received support in the form of the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) scheme.  To support small businesses, which may be the most vulnerable, those businesses in receipt of either the Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) have been eligible for a £10,000 payment.  This Small Business Grant Fund and the RHLG has been administered by local authorities.

Temporary new measures have been introduced to protect tenants renting commercial property from aggressive forms of rent recovery.  To achieve this, Parliament legislated to enact a moratorium on commercial forfeitures due to non-payment of rent from March until the end of December; temporarily voided statutory demands and winding up petitions issued to commercial tenants; and made changes to the use of Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery.

As you know, bars, casinos, bowling alleys, and other venues may reopen provided their premises are Covid-19 Secure.  All pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, except for takeaways, and together with all hospitality venues they must close at 10pm. The full details of the guidance and list of businesses that can reopen can be found online at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus.  It is important that the science is kept under review and I am told Ministers are working with industry representatives to draw up further guidance.

I will continue to raise industry-specific concerns at the highest level and will follow any developments closely.

Thank you again for taking the time to me.