Lyle Bignon, Night Time Economy Ambassador (NTE) for Birmingham, working on behalf of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), described the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement as ‘a missed opportunity to support the UK’s fifth biggest industry’, saying:
“The Night Time Economy (NTE) is the fifth-largest industry in the UK. However, today’s announcement from the Chancellor is nothing short of a missed opportunity to support NTE businesses and workers who are facing an unprecedented challenge, verging on an existentialist crisis.
“Despite the advice of leading NTE advocacy groups and industry bodies such as the NTIA, which represents over 10,000 members across the country, the Chancellor has chosen to pursue policies which ignore the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of hard-working people that power the UK’s out of home leisure, and late night economies.
“The freeze on alcohol duty is a temporary fix which in isolation will barely scratch the surface in tackling the NTE’s serious challenges for growth.
“During the current cost of living crisis, and with geopolitical events including the ongoing energy and fuel poverty crisis projected to continue well into 2024, the NTE needs more support from the Government and local authorities to simply survive, let alone grow.
“One of the biggest disappointments in Hunt’s statement is the lack of further business rates relief and no VAT relief, both of which would be lifelines to businesses struggling under extremely challenging market conditions.
“Successive UK Prime Ministers and their cabinets have consistently failed to support the NTE along with music and culture with new investment and innovation in fiscal policy, following years of damaging Treasury policies and strategies, and today’s announcement appears to be no different.
“Coupled with major local concerns, including Birmingham City Council’s Section 114 status which will see a severe reduction of non-statutory and possibly even statutory services, the City of Birmingham looks set for a recession of its own in the coming months.
“Many music venues, pubs, bars, clubs, hotels, restaurants, cultural organisations and entertainment businesses in the city – particularly independents – are on their knees already.
Without some sort of assistance from local and combined authorities and key agencies, the ecosystem along with secondary and tertiary suppliers is likely to decline rapidly. This will, in turn, affect Birmingham’s economy and by association, its national and international standing.
“Leaders of our city and regional authorities must act now and intervene with financial support for the NTE in Birmingham and the West Midlands – which is a proven catalyst for economic and societal growth.
“Birmingham’s NTE community will be responding to today’s missed opportunity at the ballot box in Spring 2024. All eyes are now on the West Midlands Mayoral Election and General Election next year”.