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Events hauliers are backing a call for the government to provide greater support to the events industry as it struggles to survive the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) has written to prime minister Boris Johnson calling for more action to protect the industry and has also launched a twitter campaign today (5 May) in a bid to increase pressure on the government to accede to its demands.

The letter, written jointly with the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and the Association of Event Venues (AEV), calls for greater government support and recognition for the sector, which it says generates more £11bn a year.

It states: “No specific reference to the events sector in the various packages and measures makes it very difficult, and sometimes impossible for event venues, organisers, suppliers, contractors, the self-employed and freelancers to access the support on offer, activate insurance cover, and to obtain the business rates relief from local authorities."

It calls on the government to follow the example of other countries, pointing to Australia, Denmark and Hong Kong which the letter says “have created industry-specific state aid packages, and were able to create confidence amongst their customers to engage in events in the future".

The association is also calling on the events industry, including events hauliers, to join its Twitter campaign by using their Twitter accounts to petition the chancellor (@rishisunak) and the PM (@BorisJohnson) directly, using the #weareevents hashtag in their tweets, from today.

Andrew Harrison, ESSA director said the Twitterstorm “is intended to be a collective cry for help from hundreds of individual event businesses, underlining precisely what is at stake here, namely thousands of jobs, billions in revenue, and the continued pre-eminence of the UK event industry on the world stage".

He added: “We want to whip up a storm, and create a fast-trending topic on Twitter to raise awareness and prompt a public response from the government, getting it to acknowledge the importance of the event industry and urgently deliver on our key requests.”

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Martin Cowie logistics manager at Staines-based FCL Events Logistics welcomed the campaign. He told “We are 100% behind this. The events industry will only come back when people are confident enough to hold and attend shows and conferences and that will not happen very quickly.

“We are a specialist events haulier and right now only five of our 23 trucks are on the road. We were lucky enough to find work delivering PPE direct from the airports.

“I reckon we are typical – that all events hauliers are running around the same percentage of their fleets right now so more help from the government would be very welcome.

“We are a big industry that other industries such as the hospitality sector rely on and they will need us there as the economy recovers.”

Gary Bath, MD of Bristol-based events haulier Bath International Transport echoed Cowie’s views: “We very much support these demands. The events industry is particularly hard hit because it was the first to go in and will be the last to come out.

"The problem is that the events industry is stuck in the middle when it comes to support. We are not classed as hospitality, and we are not classed as retail, so we can miss out on grants.

“My business couldn’t qualify for the local authority business rate grant for this reason and whilst it is only £10,000 it would have helped us a lot.”

ESSA’s key requests are:

• Recognition of the part that events and exhibitions will play in reigniting the UK post-outbreak economy.

• Inclusion of the event industry in the Government’s plans to stimulate key vertical markets.

• Equal and comparable focus and support for UK exhibitions and events, as identified with the Government’s International Business Events Action Plan.

• Explicit confirmation that Events is a part of ‘Leisure, Hospitality and Tourism’ and that it will benefit from all current and future packages and measures.

• An industry support package in line with other countries (including Australia, Denmark and Hong Kong) to protect the sector.

• Clarity on the ‘lockdown’ scenarios from the government. Confidence and assurance are essential in building, promoting and delivering future events.

• Guidance on when events are expected to be allowed to run again; to allow time to build business confidence in various markets for buyers and sellers, and to allow the supply chain to resource and plan effectively.