The UK’s Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) has submitted a budget request to HM Treasury ahead of the next national budget, which chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak will deliver on 3 March.
The budget request aims to secure long-term targeted support to aid the recovery of the UK events industry.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, business visits and events contributed £70bn (US$95.3bn) to the UK economy in terms of visitor spend, representing more than 50% of all tourism spend. The major activities of the industry have been severely impacted by the virus and subsequent lockdowns due to an almost total lack of ability to operate since the start of the pandemic.
It is projected that annual revenues will be down by approximately £55bn and around 434,000 jobs will have been lost across the entire industry.
Simon Hughes, chair of the BVEP, said 2020 had been an “incredibly tough” year with the entire industry coming to a standstill. “Sadly, we have seen a large number of our talented colleagues lose their jobs and a number of businesses and venues close their doors for good,” he said. “The stark reality is that 76% of all event businesses only have enough funds to keep afloat until the end of next month.”
The BVEP and its members have asked the Government to consider the following support schemes to protect the UK events industry:
- Extension of existing schemes relating to business rates relief and furlough for 12 months
- Support to the events supply chain and freelancers
- Extension of VAT cut for 12 months
- An Event Recovery fund to sustain the cash flow of event businesses
- Capital allowances for improvements to venue premises to ameliorate social distancing costs
- Tax incentives for technology investment for online meetings and broadcast installations
- A Government backed insurance indemnity scheme to cover upfront investment costs in staging events
- Tax allowance for upfront production and start-up costs for new events
- Increase in the exemption for the annual staff parties.
Hughes added: “We are submitting these budget requests to the Government so it can provide some much-needed support, similar to what it has done to aid the recovery of other businesses. It is crucial that the Government acts quickly so the industry can work on its road to recovery and avoids any further business closures.”
The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, chair of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for Events said that there was an urgent need to support the events industry. “There is an urgent need to help the events sector survive the long shutdown caused by Covid,” she said. “This part of our economy is hugely important in helping to generate trade, investment and exports for the UK. Many highly successful businesses are on the brink of collapse after a year with their doors effectively closed. I hope Ministers will find a way to tide them over so that when lockdown starts to be eased, they are ready to start putting on world-class, conferences, events, exhibitions, festivals and tradefairs.”