Open Letter to Andrew Mitchell and Andy Street

Goldieslie Road,
Sutton Coldfield,
West Midlands,
B73 5PQ

9th October 2020

Urgent support needed for the events sector

Dear Andrew Mitchell and Andy Street

I have been speaking to a number of individuals and businesses across Sutton Coldfield, the West Midlands and the UK who work in the events sector and whose livelihoods are under threat from the government’s inadequate provisions for their sector’s particular needs.

The government’s decision to close events for an expected further six months leaves many entirely unable to work or run their business over that period and the support measures that have been put in place going forward do not provide for those circumstances.  I know that the original furlough scheme was greatly valued and secured jobs and businesses over the period of operation.  The cessation of the scheme leaves the sector and its employees particularly exposed, having been one of the only sectors not allowed to reopen in the summer.  The replacement scheme does not work for this sector when no face-to-face events are permitted, leaving businesses unable to operate and are unable to generate any revenues.

I do of course understand that the government cannot support everyone and some businesses will naturally lose their relevance due to societal changes over time.  However, the events and exhibitions sector is not one of them.  Pre-Covid, the events industry was a vibrant, growing sector, contributing in the region of £70-80bn to the UK economy and employing up to 1,000,000 people.  The sector is not one of those which is no longer viable.  It requires temporary support until such time as events can resume.

I would urge you to work with your colleagues to find a targeted solution to support the sector.  For instance, the furlough scheme might be extended for those specific businesses which are particularly affected to address their unique circumstances.  I do hope that you will press the chancellor to put specific measures in place to resolve this desperate situation for so many local businesses and individuals.

Yours sincerely,

Jenny Wilkinson

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Sutton Coldfield