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Is the future bright for London’s night-time economy?

The introduction of the Night Tube is set to create nearly 2,000 jobs in London.

So, Totaljobs surveyed the capital's workforce about the impact of the 24-hour weekend service and the existing challenges faced by the night-time industry.

Is Night Tube a nightmare?

Due to launch in September 2015, Night Tube has yet to see the light of day. Over half of survey respondents (56%) blame the Unions for the delay, a quarter think TFL are accountable and 16% believe Boris Johnson is responsible.

Early 2016 seems a more likely launch date, with 34% of respondents expecting an introduction in Q1 and 27% in Q2. A discouraged 5.5% think it will never happen.

What challenges face London’s night-time economy?

The capital’s night-time economy represents 8% of national employment and generates £66bn a year. However, there are some big challenges, according to survey respondents:

  • Alcohol and drug-related crime (41%)
  • Opening hours regulations (37%) and licensing laws (27%)
  • Complaints from local residents (36%)
  • The delayed introduction of Night Tube (34%)

What’s the economic impact of Night Tube?

40% of respondents have positive feelings towards Night Tube, saying it will benefit their business; 50% feel neutral and 2% think the introduction will have a negative impact.

The potential benefits to London businesses created by Night Tube:

  • Improved safety for employees travelling to and from home (39%)
  • Expected increase in revenue (21%)
  • Longer staff working hours (18%) and more staff employed (11%)
  • Longer business opening hours (16%)

Sectors that will benefit most from Night Tube are hospitality (25%), leisure (14%), tourism (11%), catering (7%), transport (6%) and retail (5%).

Nonetheless, 36% of respondents think Night Tube will have no business impact.

Which London borough will benefit most?

When asked which London borough would most benefit from Night Tube, 32% of respondents elected Westminster as the clear winner.

Runners-up are Camden (11%) as well as Tower Hamlets and Islington (both 4%). Overall, 67% think no London borough will be negatively impacted.

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Is the future bright for London’s night-time economy?

Despite the current frustrations with Night Tube delays, an overwhelming 78% of respondents still feel positive or very positive about the future of London’s night-time industry, and less than 3% feel negative or very negative.

Alan D Miller, Chairman of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said: “It is indicative that a whopping 78% of interviewees recognise that the Night Tube will be beneficial to London.

“As a global city, London must have provision in infrastructure, business and leisure that competes internationally.

“Londoners deserve a professional and modern service that provides them with flexibility and choices.

“The night-time economy provides our cities and towns with employment, entertainment, tax revenue and creates an enormous cultural asset in the heart of our communities which promotes Britain around the world.”

Night-time workers display a certain pride, boasting their contribution to London’s reputation as a global tourist destination (50%) and the provision of jobs in London (41%).

The Real Story Behind London’s Night Time Economy

London’s night economy significantly contributes to the jobs market, but there’s a perception that developing 24-hour working will increase crime and anti-social behaviour.

We look at traditional ‘late work’, speak to those in night roles and discuss what a growing night industry could mean.

What is night work?

According to the NTIA, night industries account for 8% of national employment and £66bn per year.

Its board of directors comprises independent bar, restaurant and nightclub owners and music events organisers. It is supported by representatives from business, culture, politics and media sectors.

Certain jobs tend to be thought of as involving ‘after hours’ work, like hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries.

Other work typically associated with night includes nursing, caring, manufacturing or transport roles.

Attributes required differ accordingly. Generally, you need to be upbeat, motivated, energetic, confident, flexible and creative with good time management and interpersonal skills.

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What are the opportunities for night workers?

Evidence suggests career opportunities will open across all industries, meaning the Night Tube and growing night industries is an exciting time for those seeking employment.

Social changes, such as mass use of online media and updated licensing laws, meant moves towards a 24-hour city for at least the last decade.

But the proposed Night Tube takes that further, creating jobs, facilitating commuting, work and leisure.

Alan D Miller said: “The Night Tube is excellent news for London and beyond. The service will benefit the night time economy in many different ways, providing huge value to media companies, all who work internationally and across the city.”

Actress Sally Samad often works at night. She said: “The theatre scene in the West End is very special. I love the excitement – there is rarely a dull moment.

Night Tube will be invaluable for people like me getting home. I can’t wait for it to be put in place.”

More potential for traditional ‘day jobs’ to become round-the-clock

Thanks to globalisation, the planet has effectively become smaller.

Businesses can work together, though they may be thousands of miles apart, through new technology. Almost any job can be done 24 hours a day.

Dr Hadfield said: “Night Tube is an important step towards supporting the future of London as a global 24-hour hub of activity.

“It will enable international visitors to access the city more effectively throughout the night and for the army of workers that keep London ticking to get home more quickly in the early hours.”

Entrepreneur and PR specialist Kimberley Sklinar finds her roles thrive during the night. She said: “When I’m in the office, there’s no distractions from the phone ringing and less emails to interrupt me.

“A lot of people assume night working is just for security staff. There are many other roles that are moving to evening work. I wouldn’t change my working pattern for the world.”

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A special kind of magic in the air

The trend towards a more global perspective is closing gaps between night and day, blurring boundaries between traditional shift hours.

Freelance media work requires you to adapt your hours to suit the client. For dance photographer and writer Carole Edrich, this means working in London at night.

She said: “Sometimes, I have to kick myself. I get to see and shoot some of the best dance in the world, meet fascinating people and, when it’s done, travelling through late night London is a buzzing experience.

“On the way home through late night London, I often wonder if I’m dreaming. Buildings seem to sparkle, there are fewer people and those around are friendlier.

“The city takes on an even more exciting character. It’s like living in a fairy tale to be able to earn money doing work I love in such a wonderful place.”

Are there any downsides?

If you have children, you could struggle. Sally Samad added: “I leave home at 5pm, as I have to be in the theatre for 6pm. It is an awkward time as I have kids, and finding childcare can be difficult.”

Some people feel they are not around during the day for medical appointments or seeing friends with 9 to 5 routines.

Other say night work is an ideal way to mix leisure with work – known to be a great way of making contacts, particularly relevant to PR.

Kimberley Sklinar said: “I really enjoy working at night. I’m much more productive than in the daytime.

“My clients and contacts are available attending events and putting on shows. I don’t get stuck in a grimy morning commute.

People are more relaxed and easier to engage with in the evenings and I see my friends around work.”

What about any social impact?

Some suggest a negative social impact on London, particularly for residential areas.

Some people are worried about increases in crime and other anti-social issues.

Dr Hadfield added: “Night Tube presents a challenge to public sector service providers who will be required to support the additional activity at night.

“We are likely to see a future in which supportive services are provided increasingly through public-private partnership structures.

“Borough Councils will hopefully play a leading role in this, setting out ‘shared visions’ for the night-time city to which many stakeholders can subscribe.”

But NTIA chair Alan added: “It will provide a safe and professionally-run environment, allowing visitors to navigate their way around London throughout the night.

The NTIA is enormously excited about the launch and is an ardent supporter of Night Tube and the increased cultural and economic benefits it will provide for bars, clubs, restaurants, pop ups and beyond.”

Do you agree with the survey findings? How do you feel about the future of London’s night-time economy? Leave a comment below and join the discussion.

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