mia responds to the Chancellor’s Statement

The Meetings Industry Association is utterly dismayed by the chancellor of the exchequer’s new support measures that have been unveiled today.

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia, said: “The government’s ‘radical interventions’ have completely disregarded the business meetings and events sector and its valuable £70bn contribution to the economy.

“Our sector needs targeted measures and they were simply not there in Rishi Sunak’s statement. Venues have averaged a £2,398,600 loss of business to date and had their operations and revenue generation blocked by government. Despite this, they have continued to stand by their teams, yet the government is now making this impossible by not offering the sector targeted support.  

“With the forced restrictions to only offer business meetings and events for up to 30 people, the majority of our sector is not even able to open – either because they do not qualify as a permissible venue, or they just do not have the required space to offer socially distanced events.  

“Thousands of jobs across the UK are reliant on the business meetings and event sector. The new Jobs Support Scheme that will replace the furlough scheme when it ends on 31 October will be of little use to the sector.

“We know 166,000 staff have already been made redundant and those who remain are either still on furlough or are back in the workforce operating for venues with very little business, so venues will be unable to take advantage of retaining employees on shorter hours for the government to contribute two-thirds of their wages.

“And, it will be a backwards step for those who are able to take advantage, as organisations will in fact have to pay 55% of wages – more than they have already been contributing under the current scheme. This has the effect of increasing their losses.

“The lack of government support will have a huge knock-on effect on business tourism. In particular, many city hotels, restaurants and wider suppliers heavily rely on the business generated by business meetings and events.

“The extension of VAT cuts for hospitality and tourism companies until March 2021 is completely meaningless for our business to business sector.

"What we really need is targeted support to protect jobs, plus a fixed reopening date that our hugely viable sector can aim towards. As we’ve continually highlighted, when we do finally get the go ahead, it is going to take many, many months to re-build booker confidence and many years to see any form of recovery.

“Sadly, without a radical rethink by government, venues will be closing, and more jobs will be lost. Some current estimates are that this could be as devastatingly high as 80% of our sector.”