19/03/2020

Businesses need funds NOW to survive, says Meetings Industry Association

The Meetings Industry Association (mia) has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding businesses get immediate access to funds to avoid a staffing and economic crisis across the sector.

Despite the Government announcement that it will extend its support to all businesses through short-term rate relief and loans, not just those with rateable values of less than £51,000, the mia says the help offered simply isn’t enough.

A survey of representatives of the mia’s 800+ members and the wider meetings and events industry showed that 85% don’t believe the Government’s current support package will enable them to survive.

Over the last few days meetings and events venues have been forced into making crisis and damaging decisions after clients cancelled meetings, leaving many venues empty for the next three months.

The outcome is having a devastating impact on the industry’s workforce, with up to 56% of it expected to be affected according to the mia’s survey.

To help salvage the industry, which is worth £70bn to the UK economy – of which business meetings and events forms a substantial part – the mia is asking the Government to provide a grant scheme for businesses of all sizes; a defer scheme for VAT and clarity around the measures.

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association, said: “Businesses in the meetings and events industry have been hit so hard by the Government’s guidance. Our survey has revealed nearly two-thirds of respondents have seen more than 50% of events scheduled to take place in the next three months cancelled. Therefore, many simply cannot ride out the next three months without help and possibly for some not even the next few weeks.

“The industry’s focus for some years has been on the retention of a talented workforce to provide the highest standards and profitable service to the events world. We need huge incentives to keep these people in the workforce and out of the benefit system to ensure the sector is able to re-build.

“But the help needs to come now, we cannot wait.”