By Michael Hirst OBE, Chair, UKEVENTS Working Group for Advocacy and Government Relations 

Ahead of the Spring Budget on the 6th March 2024, it is important that UKEVENTS lays out its recommendations to His Majesty’s Government on what the events industry can offer the United Kingdom. While the events industry continues to underpin so much in terms of cultural vitality, societal advancement and trade, there is much more it can offer the Government in terms of supporting its own policy agenda.

Championing innovation: incentivising new event productions and harnessing the power of tax credits: stimulating innovation and investment 

Central to UKEVENTS’ proposal is the concept of incentivising new event productions through targeted government support. Drawing parallels with the successful tax credits in the TV and film industry, UKEVENTS advocates for the extension or adaptation of existing schemes to cover live events. By offering tax credits on early-year start-up costs for new events located in designated regions and off-season periods, the government can stimulate innovation, boost employment, and activate regional economic development. 

Facilitating trade and investment through business events and fostering collaboration and market expansion 

It is vital to emphasise the pivotal role of events in facilitating trade, investment, and technological advancement. Business events serve as catalysts for collaboration, knowledge exchange, and market expansion, with trade transacted at such events estimated at over £200 billion. By strategically aligning event incentives with priority industrial sectors, the government can nurture innovation ecosystems, attract foreign investment, and propel economic growth. 

Preserving vibrancy and support for small operators in the outdoor event space amid rising costs 

Crucially, we must stress the importance of supporting small operators in the outdoor event space, who face mounting operational costs and diminishing local funding. By allocating additional funding to local authorities and establishing targeted schemes for small operators, the government can safeguard the diversity and vibrancy of the events landscape, preventing the loss of shows to local destinations. 

Establishing a standalone government body for the events industry with strategic planning 

Furthermore, UKEVENTS advocates for a holistic approach to industry support, encompassing funding for bidding on international events, reforming tax policies such as the Tour Operator Margin Scheme (TOMS), business rates and addressing regulatory barriers to event growth. By consolidating disparate resources and establishing a standalone government body for the Events Industry, akin to UKSport or Arts Council, the government can streamline funding distribution, enhance strategic planning and National delivery, and elevate the industry’s profile on the global stage.

An evidence-based approach to policy interventions, leveraging research to substantiate impact 

In crafting its proposal, we have emphasised the importance of an evidence-based approach, leveraging credible research consultancies to substantiate the sector’s economic impact and the proposed policy interventions’ efficacy. Addressing the Treasury’s specified criteria, including effectiveness, revenue implications, and sectoral impacts, UKEVENTS seeks to align its proposal with broader economic objectives, promoting growth, employment, and regional development. 

While an evidence-based approach has been acknowledged as essential, we’re continuing to navigate the complexities of policy advocacy with the Treasury, recognising the importance of substantiating our proposals with credible research.

A thriving future for the UK events industry

As the industry charts a path towards recovery and growth, collaboration between government stakeholders, industry leaders, and advocacy groups like UKEVENTS is paramount. Through concerted efforts, informed policy interventions, and strategic investments, the UK Events Industry can emerge stronger, more resilient, and poised to unlock its full potential as a driver of economic prosperity and cultural enrichment. We must inspire collective action and forging a brighter future for the UK Events Industry and the nation as a whole. 

The priorities outlined by UKEVENTS have been submitted to the Treasury for consideration as part of its Spring Budget and communicated to the Minister of State for Media, Tourism, and Creative Industries. Collaboration with other trade bodies on common issues, such as business rates reform and VAT reduction, is underway to amplify our collective voice for greater impact.