AEO - Association of event organisers




10 Feb 2021

Thousands of businesses across England facing further job losses or bankruptcy due to local authorities failing to pay up to £1.4bn of emergency COVID-19 grants

  • Freedom of Information Request by the Events Industry Alliance to Local Authorities across England has shown that an estimated 87 per cent of the £1.6bn Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funds announced by the UK Government have yet to be paid out to companies, despite the scheme being launched four months ago.
  • The ARG scheme was announced in October to help businesses forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions, including those in the events, exhibitions and hospitality sectors
  • Businesses closed by COVID-19 restrictions face being forced into making further job cuts or bankruptcy due to local council delays

The Events Industry Alliance (EIA), which represents the UK’s event organisers, venues, and suppliers, can today reveal that an estimated £1.4bn of Additional Restrictions Grants (ARG) announced by the UK Government on 31 October, has not yet been paid by local authorities in England to businesses closed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ARG, which could be worth up to £3,000 per month per company, provides funding for local authorities to support businesses that have been forced to close because of national COVID-19 restrictions. These include companies in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, as well as events and exhibitions businesses. The scheme was announced by the UK Government on 31st October 2020 with an initial £1bn funding allocation, with a further £594m issued in early January 2021.

In January, the EIA revealed the uneven implementation of the ARG across many local authority areas. A subsequent Freedom of Information (FOI) submitted to councils from the EIA has revealed that local authorities have only paid an average of 13.4 per cent of ARG funding received from the UK Government. The FOI data revealed that the figure was even lower for some local authorities – including Bristol City Council (7%), Herefordshire Council (5%), Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (4%), West Oxfordshire District Council (4%), and Chorley Council (10%). Some local authorities, such as Ealing Council who received £9,872,400 in ARG funding, had not made any payments as of January 26th.

Businesses within the exhibitions sector include numerous small and medium sized suppliers and event organising companies, who currently face an inability to earn revenues due to national COVID-19 restrictions and were relying on the ARG to meet short term costs including wage payments to employees.

The wider exhibitions industry has been shut since March 2020 due to national COVID-19 restrictions, and plays a critical role in the UK economy, and prior to the pandemic was generating £11bn in economic activity and supporting 114,000 jobs.

Andrew Harrison, Director, Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA), a constituent part of the EIA said: “We are making an urgent call on the UK Government and local MPs across England to provide clear guidance to local authorities on issuing the Additional Restrictions Grant, in order that payments are made to eligible companies as soon as possible. Businesses in the events and exhibitions sector have been forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions and therefore require appropriate financial support if they are not permitted to operate. It is now up to local authorities to ensure proper economic support is delivered to the sector.”

The EIA submitted Freedom of Information Requests to all English local authorities in early January. By 9th February 2021 a total of 31 authorities had provided data pursuant to the request.

  • "Broadway Events joined the AEO on the Enterprise Membership. We’ve already taken advantage of the many benefits including the excellent FaceTime Masterclasses and training guides for exhibitors."
    Emma Barrett
    Broadway Events
  • "We are a member of the AEO because it is a proactive association for the events industry. As an organiser it provides us with high value ideas, networking, guidance and information."
    David Harrison
    PPMA Group
  • "This year, the association has led working groups to address industry issues and put on some amazing events full of insightful content for both organisers and, through the AEOs FaceTime initiative, exhibitors. In addition, the AEO has represented the industry at a Governmental level to raise awareness of the importance of events to the UK economy."
    Paul Byrom
    Upper Street Events
  • "I genuinely believe that if you’re involved in organising events you should become a member of the AEO."
    Simon Kimble
    Clarion Events
  • "Our membership of the AEO represents real and tangible value for UBM - it provides fantastic networking opportunities, practical training for our team as well as valuable insight into the state of our industry."
    Simon Parker
    Informa Markets
  • "As an Association business, we appreciate the excellent work the secretariat of the AEO do for our community. From the events side of our business, the AEO provides an excellent return on investment, providing thought leadership, fantastic networking, brilliant awards, excellent research and FaceTime, a valuable tool to tell our markets why exhibitions and events should be an essential part of the marketing mix."
    Neil Felton
  • "AEO’s networking and member meetings are valuable for individuals at all levels within our organisation. The promotion of our sector to the outside world, to government, authorities and business at large is another vital aspect of the AEO’s purpose for members, many of whom, like my company, work on events throughout the world."
    Stephen Brooks
    Mack Brooks Exhibitions
  • “Knowledge is power and the AEO dinners are certainly powerful, there is always a wealth of knowledge at the table. Insightful presentations make for a constructive and extremely social way to learn from the experts who’ve done it before. I attended the Japanese evening and gained really valuable insight about the culture and how best to communicate with a local audience.”
    John Whitaker
    Vice President Marketing, Data & Digital , dmg events
  • "We have the opportunity to contribute positively to the industry as well as gaining valuable insight and advice. There’s no need to spend valuable time and money reinventing the wheel when you have so many experienced professionals in AEO membership to learn from”
    Emma Cartmell
    CHS Group
  • "JOINING THE AEO HAS BEEN FANTASTIC! Being able to gift our customers with free places at the FaceTime masterclasses, learn alongside industry peers and seek advice to common challenges is invaluable”
    Sharon Azam
    GovNet Communications
  • I just wanted to send my most sincere thanks for everything that you and the AEO team are doing to help navigate the events industry through the pandemic. The working groups and communication from the AEO have been excellent and I’m really appreciative of being part of such a wonderful organisation.
    Simon Burns
    ICHF Events
  • I think what the AEO has been doing during this tough time has been exceptional.
    Greg Cherry
    QD Events LTD
  • It is so useful to hear from your peers at this time. Please pass my thanks to Ruth and the BTIG panel
    Dan Assor
    CloserStill Media
  • Just wanted to thank you and Ruth this morning for the Zoom meeting - it was really interesting to hear how things are moving along in the virtual/hybrid meeting/exhibitions. All very new to me, so a lot to digest.
    Maureen Wright
    Optic UK
  • The session this morning was fantastic. We are right in the midst of this and the information was so useful. We can apply it immediately
    Claire Adams
  • The AEO provides an opportunity to make a difference, to work with other companies for the good of the industry as a whole, but beyond that, it provides it’s members with valuable insight and tangible benefits to grow your business, upskill and engage your teams. For those reasons, our membership is in indelible ink on the each annual budget. In short, if you aren’t a member, you are missing out.
    Ed Tranter
    73 Media




AEO news