THE CORONAVIRUS pandemic has caused "unprecedented damage" to the night time economy in Brighton, council bosses have said.

The comments from Brighton and Hove City Council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty came after the council provided evidence to parliament that many venues and suppliers in the city have reported annual losses of between 40 and 70 per cent.

Pubs and clubs that host live music, literature and comedy, as well as theatres, concert halls, cinemas and restaurants, were asked to contribute their experiences to the report.

Before the pandemic, nearly one fifth of the city’s workforce – 24,000 people – were employed in jobs or businesses linked to the visitor economy and hospitality.

The council is calling on the government to give the sector a clear “road map” for re-opening safely, together with financial support to enable night-time venues to survive.

Mr Mac Cafferty said the council’s findings match those published yesterday in a report by the all party parliamentary group (APPG) for the Night Time Economy.

The Argus: Frank Turner performing at Brighton Dome in March 2020Frank Turner performing at Brighton Dome in March 2020

He said: “Brighton and Hove’s nightlife is incredibly important to both the economic viability and cultural vibrancy of the city. It is part of our unique identity.

“The evidence we submitted to parliament asserts this identity and the importance of a settlement for the night-time economy and the businesses affected by the pandemic.”

Mr Mac Cafferty said the council supports calls to maintain the 5 per cent VAT rate for business in the sector until 2022 and is asking for better support for the self employed who had been “excluded from government support.”

He said: “Though we are far from the point when we should even consider re-opening the local economy, we continue to voice our support for the city’s cultural organisations.

"We call on the government to recognise the devastating blow of the pandemic to the sector.

"The many artists, performers and businesses battling for survival must be able to access adequate government support, which along with our local efforts, will ensure they can recover their livelihoods when it is safe to do so once again.”