Music venues and theatres fear going bust

Almost a quarter of arts and entertainment businesses say the risk of insolvency is moderate or severe, ONS finds

More than half of workers remain furloughed in the arts and entertainment industry, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Almost a quarter of businesses in the sector said their risk of insolvency was moderate or severe from July 27 to Aug 9, compared to the economy-wide average of 11pc of firms.

However, across the entire workforce only 13pc of workers were still using the coronavirus job retention scheme, which is due to be fully phased out by October.

Businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector face a double blow with the end of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme approaching this bank holiday weekend. More than 64m half-price meals have been claimed since the latter was introduced.

“Many of those in most need are the UK’s mid-sized businesses who provide around one-in-three jobs but can often fall through the cracks of government policy traditionally aimed at larger or smaller businesses,” said Paul Eagland, managing partner at accountancy firm BDO.

“More than four-fifths of UK medium-sized businesses can only continue trading for up to nine months with current funding arrangements, with most believing it will take as long as two years for revenues to recover. We would encourage government to ensure there is adequate support for medium-sized businesses - it will have a significant impact on the UK’s overall economic recovery.”

Meanwhile, the number of job advertisements posted online has remained at just more than half its average for last year for the third week running, the ONS said, citing figures from jobs search engine Adzuna. 

The biggest decline was in the domestic help category, where there was a 5 percentage point slide compared with the 2019 average.

The data form part of various experimental so-called faster indicators collected by the statistics body to assess the economy and society, including shipping data from ports, high street shopper numbers and VAT returns.

One bright spot was the number of energy performance certificates issued – a proxy for housing transactions – which rose to its highest level since March last week.