Sunak's eyes wide shut

Published: 21 February 2021
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

The Government Can't See Us, Can You?

Live events industry collective #WeMakeEvents has kicked off new campaign The Government Can't See Us, Can You? by writing an open letter to Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

The missive calls on the government to urgently support the industry which has been dragged to its knees by the pandemic. In addition to support for individuals and businesses currently unable to work, it asks the government develop a reopening plan and a Government-backed COVID-19 cancellation insurance programme.

The campaign also hopes to harness backing from the public asking that they use social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linked) and write to their MPs to create pressure on the government to respond positively.

Recent survey results reveal that 43% of businesses in the sector which had previously brought in more £70 billion a year and provided some 700,000 jobs expect to close by June as the live event supply chain faces collapse. The survey of over 2,800 businesses and individuals also showed that 65% of respondents saw a fall in income of over 50%, with 30% reporting a fall of over 90%.

A third have been forced to leave, or are considering leaving, the sector with 34% of individuals and businesses being excluded from government schemes such as loans, furlough and grants, and many of those in receipt saying that the arrangements are inadequate.

Managing director of PLASA and #WeMakeEvents steering committee member Peter Heath said, “the live event supply chain has been all but unable to work for almost a year—we have been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic. Yet, we have received no targeted assistance and been excluded from much of the support said to be for businesses that are unable to open. As a result, the live event supply chain is on the brink of collapse.

“This can be stopped if the Government sees the human and economic devastation being inflicted on the live events supply chain, extends the whole sector the lifelines we need to survive until it is safe for live events to reopen and works with us to build a practical roadmap for reopening. We hope this campaign moves the Government to take these vital steps.”

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has lent its support, with its chair Julian Knight MP saying “It’s hugely disappointing that almost a year since stages went dark, the skilled professionals making up our world-leading creative sector are still falling through the cracks of Government support.

“The DCMS Committee continues to hear evidence on the severe impact the pandemic has had on those in live event supply chains, in our inquiry into the support needed to save the 2021 season of festivals.

“I hope this serves as a catalyst to the Government taking the steps it so urgently needs to, including backing COVID-19 cancellation insurance.”