The Night Time Industries Association, which represents thousands of businesses in the night time economy, has today warned that problems with the Government’s flagship Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) risk many businesses ‘falling at the final hurdle’ of the pandemic. Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, has today written to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to urging him to reconsider the Government’s planned eligibility criteria for the 3rd round of CRF funding.
The Government have admitted that only 32 nightclubs have secured access to CRF funding in Rounds 1 and 2 of the scheme. Despite this, the Government recently announced that the bulk of funding for Round 3 of the programme – £220 million of a total £300 million – would be going to businesses who had already been successful in either Rounds 1 or 2.
The letter says, “It is those businesses which have fallen through the cracks – though have proven themselves viable through surviving to this point in the pandemic – that most need the additional support”, and that the way the system has been administered gives a ‘competitive advantage’ to the small proportion of nightlife businesses which have been able to access funding through the scheme. The letter also says that Government support throughout the pandemic has been “important but insufficient”. A report conducted by the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Night Time Economy published in February found that ninety percent of businesses in the sector had found that Government financial support has been insufficient.
Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, commented:
“I have written today to the Culture Secretary to implore him to change course for this latest round of funding through the Culture Recovery Fund. Most of this funding should be going to the businesses who really need it. If these businesses have survived to this point, then they have proved they are viable businesses but need a little bit of additional help to see them out of the pandemic.”
“Frankly, the decision to restrict access to those who have already received funding smacks of laziness on the part of Government officials. Of course it will be less work for the Government to provide more loans to those that have already been successful, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Instead, the Government should ensure that funding is allocated to best ensure the survival of culturally significant and viable businesses that have missed out to date – so many of which are in the night time economy.”
“I urge the Secretary of State – reconsider this decision.”`