The announcement by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on 24th September was a positive step forward for those businesses that are able to trade and work towards economic recovery, but the measures announced will not take away from the fact that the live events industry remains closed for business. These measures therefore, will have limited benefit to the NEC Group, due to the Group having almost zero activity and zero revenue as a result of the current government restrictions for the live events industry.
The new Job Support Scheme will undoubtably help businesses who are able to operate but are experiencing lower volumes. However, for companies like the NEC Group, who remain closed due to government restrictions, the introduction of this programme will not mitigate job losses.
As an organisation who played such a pivotal role in the national effort to combat this virus, transforming our venue into the NHS Nightingale Birmingham, we now need UK Government to show the same commitment to our cause and offer tailored support to the UK live events sector.
Our requests are threefold:
1. Establish a government endorsed, proven testing/track and trace programme that allows venues to offer enhanced safety.
Our request is that we work with the Government and commit resource and support behind the programmes being assessed by the Sports Innovation Technology Group.
2. Targeted financial support bespoke to the sector; as a strategic economic asset, and as recognition for the role we will play in the economic recovery of the UK.
Government restrictions mean that we remain closed for business whilst still offering our services to the NHS and therefore request targeted intervention. Specifically, but not exclusively, we would ask for the continuation of the existing Business Rates relief programme. Businesses like ours will need government assistance for a prolonged period of time, namely a period of at least six months after a material revenue recovery position has been established. There needs to be a consideration given to a package to enable strategic assets like the NEC Group, which is of regional and national importance, to be given specific help to enable safe passage through to when guidance changes and trade can once again take place.
3. Commitment to a full or participative review of the opening criteria.
Without an open date, events cannot take place.
We would like to work together with the Government to formulate a plan that will ensure that the UK continues to enjoy its leadership position within the global live events sector.