Rising debts and sleepless nights: LGBT+ venues at risk of closing during the Covid-19 crisis

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Some of London's LGBT+ venues including the The Royal Vauxhall Tavern may have to close their doors for good if they don't get more financial support.

Campaigners told ITV News that venues in Vauxhall pay high business rates which means they don't qualify for grants.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern hasn't seen a single customer for two months and is struggling during lockdown.

It costs Royal Vauxhall Tavern £24,000-a-month in costs with our doors closed and no income coming in. That's to cover our rent and other expenses coming in such as licences.

James Lindsay, Royal Vauxhall Tavern

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern has benefitted from the government's furlough scheme and local council business rates relief.

But the venue's rateable value is more than £51,000 which means it isn't eligible for a government grant.

Nearby The Eagle is in a similar financial position.

We are still paying our full insurance and we have no other leeway. We have lots of additional costs. We've not had any reduction in rent so at this stage we're still facing over a £10,000-a-month bill for that alone. And we're facing debts that are becoming insurmountable. Without any assistance it's worrying - it's keeping us all awake at night.

Mark Oakley, Eagle London

Since 2007 the number of LGBT+ venues in the capital has fallen by more than half.

We've been working very hard to turn that round. We're really happy to say we've reached a point where we've had no net loss. However, no one could have foreseen the challenges that this crisis has put before us. We have launched a £2.3m emergency fund to help some of the most 'at risk' small businesses.

Amy Lame, London's Night Czar

It's not just money that keeps the LBGT+ venues going it's an entire community of people too.

We for years have been promoting and supporting trans performers, non-binary, people of colour, different faiths, drag kings, drag queens. We don't tolerate any negativity or any hate speech in this venue.

Dave Cross, Events Manager at Royal Vauxhall Tavern

Both The Eagle and Royal Vauxhall Tavern have joined a campaign called #raisethebar calling on the government to increase the rateable value threshold which would allow more businesses to access a grant.

For now, both venues are trying to make sustainable business plans for an unpredictable future.