Meetings Industry Association responds to Chancellor’s expansion of the Job Support Scheme

The Meetings Industry Association has expressed its concerns over the chancellor of the exchequer’s ‘expansion’ of the Job Support Scheme that has been revealed today.

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia, said: “While we attempt to clarify what Rishi Sunak’s announcement means for the sector, we fear the expansion of the Job Support Scheme, which begins on 1 November, simply won’t be enough to keep the sector afloat over the course of the next six months.

 “The chancellor’s announcement far from provides the “reassurance and safety net” that has been intended. The doors of many of the sector’s venues have remained closed since March, as the consistent lack of clarity has diminished all consumer confidence and subsequent bookings. While venues haven’t officially been asked to close again, the Government has certainly blocked its business.

 “It’s disappointing that support has solely focused around labour costs. The ignorance surrounding the costs to operate this industry is insulting and deceiving an intention to protect employment. We know it isn’t sustainable for many venues to stay open to serve small meetingof up to 30 peopleyet it is only in instances where venues are forced to close that they can utilise today’s support package as a means of survival.

 Surveying the business meetings and events sector last month, we know that labour costs account for 57% of the average venue, so when considering the £206,652.62 average monthly operating costs we must ask where the Chancellor believes the other £88,860 costs can be covered with no revenue coming into the sector. These monthly deficits simply cannot be borne by employers any longer and it is astounding that this continues to be overlooked.  

 “In June 2019, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport issued the UK Government’s ‘International Business Events Action Plan’, making reference to the “considerable economic and social benefits” the sector brings to the UK. With government intentions to maintain the UK’s position as a leading European country for hosting business events, conferences and congresses, it remains staggering that the sector has been abandoned so swiftly and left to fend for itself while mass restrictions continue to be enforced against any form of viable operation and subsequent revenue generation. 

 “We understand the challenges presented to government in attempting to provide support to all industries, but as neighbouring industries and sectors continue to receive tailored packages of support, we ask ourselves why we are yet to be acknowledged, yet to be respected and why we are being left to enter such a state of decay? 

 We will be writing to the Chancellor to express our disappointment and continue to spell out the damage that has been and continues to be done. In the spirit of the industry, we won’t be beaten.”