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UK event suppliers face collapse within three months

Around 60 per cent of the event industry’s UK supplier base faces ruin unless more support is received from the government, according to a new survey.

Of the businesses polled, approximately six per cent said they were unlikely to survive until the end of April.

The online questionnaire was conducted by the Events Industry Forum (EIF) and Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) and co-ordinated by the Production Services Association (PSA). Some 1,490 businesses took part in the survey from across all sectors of the UK events industry.

“With so many events already cancelled and no certainty about when they will be able to start again, our industry is on its knees,” says Jim Winship, secretary of the Events Industry Forum which represents 26 organisations representing the outdoor events industry.

“We urgently need the government to confirm to local authorities that all event organisers and suppliers to our industry are eligible for the hospitality and leisure grants – that will give an immediate lifeline for many.

“While it is starting to be recognised by some in government circles that the event industry will be a key player in helping to kick-start the economy again, many will need on-going support until they can get back on their feet.  For this they will need further grants and better access to loans without having to give onerous personal guarantees.

“Our industry is one of the sectors that has been completely annihilated by this pandemic and needs urgent support if it is to survive.”

The outdoor event industry which employs nearly 600,000 people is particularly hard hit, says a Bournemouth University study.

This is due to many of those working in this sector being self-employed or freelance, who depend on the summer months for much of their income.

Many of the events this summer have been cancelled, including Glastonbury, the Edinburgh Festival as well as agricultural shows. Outdoor events contributed £39.5 billion of spend to the UK economy in 2018.

In the business events sector, the survey found that 74 per cent of all conferences and exhibitions have been postponed to the last quarter of 2020, with the remainder cancelled completely.

Many businesses who have applied for leisure and hospitality business support grants have been turned down by the local authorities running the scheme. Just one per cent of respondents to the survey said they were successful in applying for the government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Michael Hirst OBE, chairman of the Business Visits and Events Partnership said: “The UK has some of the best companies and contractors in the world supplying the needs of its events industry – an industry which will revitalise the nation’s economy and communities when the crisis is over.

“This survey clearly indicates that the UK is in danger of losing its capacity and expertise to stage world-class events. Hopefully its findings will underline the desperate need to provide more support to sustain the Industry’s suppliers and contractors until they can start operating again”.

The full survey results can be viewed here

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