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More than 525,000 jobs are at risk in the UK’s £84bn events and experiences industry and three out of four companies could fail to survive beyond next February, the Government has been warned.

This comes after prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed the UK will enter national lockdown between 5 November and 2 December 2020.

The UK business events sector is operating under tighter restrictions than in any other developed nation and the impact on around 774,000 talented, creative professionals employed in the business events industry was laid bare in research presented to ministers.

The findings include:

  • 77% of events and exhibition businesses have paused trading completely at some point since lockdown
  • Businesses experienced an average 89.5% year on year fall in revenue in August
  • Four out of ten firms have between 75%-100% of staff on furlough and the end of the scheme is likely to lead to 170,000 immediate job losses
  • 80% of events and exhibition firms were ineligible for the grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses based on rateable value and only 27% were able to access Bounceback loans
  • 44% of events and exhibitions companies do not believe they have the financial resilience to survive until the end of November, rising to 76% by the end of February 2021


The enforced restrictions on the UK’s events industry, known for its world-leading safety standards, contrasts with the approach in many other countries where business events have been allowed to go ahead, resulting in the significant loss of business to international competitors. Since March, 845 major exhibitions have been cancelled, amounting to £8.6bn of lost economic impact. With no road map in place for events to resume here, it is estimated by the Events Industry Board that the UK will lose £31bn in visitor spend if business events do not resume before the middle of 2021.

oiovThe industry has been repeatedly calling for urgent, short-term financial support, including a sector-specific Job Support Scheme, business rates relief and sector specific bridging grants until restrictions are lifted, as well as a government-backed indemnity insurance scheme to support confidence in the market. Industry leaders also want to work with government to devise a roadmap for reopening, with a clear indication of the evidence that will be used to dictate this schedule.

Industry leaders have outlined a comprehensive series of safety measures that have been put in place, going beyond mandatory protocols and utilising the latest technology, including touch-free registration on arrival, one-way systems, rapid testing and air filtration to create bio-secure venues. They are working on plans to use business events for mass same-day testing trials.

A new campaign is being launched to raise awareness of the importance of live events and experiences to the UK economy, their positive impact on the nation’s wellbeing and the event industry’s expertise in organised audience logistics.

One Industry One Voice is a coalition of events industry associations and businesses, representing thousands of agencies, promoters, organisers, venues, suppliers and freelance communities, together representing hundreds of thousands of professionals.

wceIts #WeCreateExperiences campaign, targeted at the public and corporate buyers, will offer reassurance that the UK is a global leader in events, especially in safety measures. It will showcase the work of the industry and the millions of lives it touches through business events and exhibitions, festivals, weddings and community and charity events. It will educate them about the industry’s importance in generating employment across the UK, creating opportunities for young people and generating £165bn in trade.

The campaign will set the scene for the return of live events in 2021, urging organisers and corporate decision makers to allocate budget to them now because they add value to their business, and reassuring the public that the events they love to attend will be back and safe to attend as soon as a roadmap is agreed with the Government.

Simon Hughes, co-founder of the #WeCreateExperiences campaign, said: “The message is clear: whether it is engaging with staff, launching products or delivering content at conferences, the industry has invested in the best technology and management to ensure they can be held safely. Live events will return in 2021 and there will be pent-up demand. Businesses who commit budgets to events in 2021 will reap the rewards and steal a march on their competitors”