Kerrin MacPhie, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association provides comment regarding the appointment of Liz Truss as Prime Minister.
Value of business meetings and events
We’re calling on the new Prime Minister Liz Truss to recognise business meetings and events industry and the value it brings to the UK economy – supporting international trade and investment.
Britain’s events industry is large and complex. We need government to recognise our industry and how it can support the UK’s objectives to be a world leader.
The sharply rising energy prices are affecting us all. With businesses being charged 20% VAT and no cap on energy prices, this will have a dramatic impact on our industry and needs to be addressed immediately.
Events support the local economy. Large national and international conferences that take place across the UK daily rely on local small businesses to support delivery and, in being local, reduce the carbon footprint of an event.
Yet, some small businesses are seeing increases of 500% on existing energy bills of £140k, which is simply not sustainable. Many are thriving post-pandemic but with increased costs their cashflow is greatly affected so they cannot deliver on their order book.
Additionally, with domestic energy bills being charged at 5% VAT – many meetings industry businesses have remodelled their approach working three days in the office and two remotely. Some have scrapped the office entirely which impacts towns and cities that benefit from offices full of people, supporting the local economy with lunch, travel, etc.
Government intervention is urgently required to ensure small businesses survive. Otherwise, valuable events could be compromised due to a seriously depleted supply chain.
The current visa process is inadequate and ineffective. We’re calling for a solution that allows businesses to sponsor international staff to combat our already diminished workforce, brought about by the government closing down our sector during the pandemic.
We support, for example, the petition started by Thiago Luz Togni (general manager of Temper Shoreditch) that has gained over 10,000 signatures, which has called for the creation of a seasonal visa similar to the one adopted for horticulture workers. It would allow EU nationals to come to the UK to work in hospitality for up to two years. Chefs are eligible for a skilled worker visa due to changes made by the UK government. We need more changes like this.
A new Brexit delivery department tasked with reviewing all of the remaining 2,400 EU laws on our statute book is welcomed. There are many vaguely answered questions regarding business meetings and events, and it is vital that we receive clarity on these so that international business events are welcomed to the UK.