CALL TO ACTION: Event business owners urged to write to MPs
The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) is urging all exhibition, conference, and event business owners and employees to write to their local Member of Parliament no later than Friday 25 September.
The letter can be sent via post or emailed.
The letter aims to raise awareness once more of the impossible situation events businesses find themselves in after the prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced on 22 September that exhibitions and conferences would not be returning to our calendars from 1 October, and in fact may need to wait for a further six months.
It has been reported that 126,000 event jobs have already been lost, with hundreds of thousands more at risk as the furlough scheme comes to an end.
The UK is at grave risk of losing out to international competition, as European countries such as Germany are actively encouraging the return of large-scale, safely-managed events.
You are advised to use the template letter below. You can find your MP and their email address here. It is advised that you input the postcode of your business’s registered address.
Template letter to MPs
YOU MUST INCLUDE YOUR ADDRESS
Dear (NAME OF MP)
I am the OWNER/DIRECTOR/EMPLOYEE OF (NAME OF COMPANY), a business in your constituency, employing (NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES) people. We are part of the exhibitions and events sector which is on the brink of collapse following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 22 September that the sector will remain closed for at least a further six months.
We have already been required to remain completely closed since March 2020 as part of the governments’ national lockdown due to Covid-19, and unlike most other parts of the economy have not been able to reopen at all since. During the last six months we have worked tirelessly with officials to create and demonstrate Covid Secure guidance which has been approved by public health officials. We had been given a go date of the 1st October, but this has now been taken away. We remain one of only five sectors closed, seemingly for a further six months, meaning the Government has removed our, and our customer’s, ability to trade and generate revenue for at least a year and likely longer given the lead-in times required for exhibitions.
Other countries are managing to manage public health and allow exhibitions to take place in some form. For example, France and Germany, unlike the UK, are already hosting exhibitions. Germany and Italy have both treated business event visitors as critical and created travel corridors for them. Other countries around Europe, Asia and around the world have embraced exhibitions and events as part of their economic recovery (many offering support packages). We are the ONLY country in Europe not to be open, which is putting us at a huge international competitive disadvantage and could lead to the sector reconsidering whether the UK is the right place for their business.
This would be a devastating loss for the UK. The overall sector generated £70bn of economic impact in 2019, employing some 600,000 people (with the exhibitions sector alone creating £11bn, supporting some 114,000 of those jobs). Job losses are already happening. We anticipated 45% of the workforce being made redundant, but given the announcement yesterday, unfortunately we estimate this to rocket to 80%, meaning a job loss of over 90,000 people from our sector alone, many of whom reside in your constituency.
This is not just a problem for our sector directly. Trade fairs support 180,000 businesses, many of which are SMEs, across the economy, trade and make deals, generate sales and fuel their supply chains. None of which is currently happening. Without an immediate survival package, our previously vibrant sector will not exist to act as the catalyst for economic recovery that will be so sorely needed once the pandemic has passed.
As a business owner and employer within your constituency I need your support. We require a survival package that provides;
- An urgent review into the decision not to allow us to reopen, at a smaller scale, as planned when other sectors such as theatres remain on track to reopen.
- Inclusion and extension of business rate reliefs until 2022 – most were excluded as a sector from this initial initiative
- Support package for our employees – the current furlough scheme expires in a matter of weeks
- Government grants specific to the sector – our businesses incur ongoing costs, and have had little or no revenue since February 2020
- Government backed insurance schemes specific to our sector – we have to build customer confidence
- Repurposing of DIT’s international exhibitor funding scheme to be extended to domestic events – An initiative to help our clients to help our sector (Eat out to help out)
- Early clarity on when we can reopen – it takes a minimum of three-month lead in time to kick start exhibitions and events
We do not expect special treatment as a sector. We simply want to be treated like all others that have been allowed to reopen under Government-approved guidance. We currently do not feel like our industry is being treated fairly.
I would be grateful for the opportunity to speak to you in further detail about this and to discuss what could be done to keep this thriving sector alive and in the UK.