Sixty percent of the UK’s events industry’s supplier base is facing collapse within three months, unless event businesses receive further support from the government, according to an online survey carried out by the Events Industry Forum (EIF) and Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) and co-ordinated by the Production Services Association (PSA).
Of the 1,490 businesses surveyed from all sub-sectors of the events industry between 3-7 April, 6% say they are unlikely to survive until the end of April as a result of the impact of Covid-19.
The results have been published a week after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s tourism minister, Nigel Huddleston MP, said that events can “kick start” the economy when the UK emerges from the Covid-19 crisis.
According to the survey, only 1% of respondents have been successful in applying for the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. It has also been revealed that despite the chancellor of the exchequer indicating in the House of Commons that event organisers and the supply network behind them should be eligible for leisure and hospitality business support grants, according to the survey most which have applied have been turned down by local authorities, which are running the scheme.
Michael Hirst OBE, chairman of the BVEP, noted the survey indicated that the UK is in danger of losing its capacity and expertise to stage world-class events. He 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.
“Hopefully the survey’s 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 collapse of businesses would both impact the economy and result in unemployment for a number of the 700,000 people who work in the events industry.
The business events sector has seen 74% of all conferences and exhibitions either postponed to the last quarter of 2020, with the remainder cancelled altogether.
Many of those working in the outdoor industry are freelances or self-employed who rely on the summer season for the bulk of their income. With most events this summer already cancelled, many are facing 12 months before they will see further income.
The supply line is vital to the continuity of the industry, including contractors responsible for staging, temporary seating and structures, production lighting, exhibition stands, marquees, sanitation facilities and security barriers.
“With so many events already cancelled and no certainty about when they will be able to start again, our industry is on its knees,” said Jim Winship, secretary of the Events Industry Forum, which represents 26 organisations from 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 events 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.”