The UK Weddings Taskforce has submitted it’s proposal to the government asking for financial support for wedding businesses across the country. But what does it mean for your business and how might this news help you plan for the next few months?
What were the main “asks”
The three first priorities identified by the UK Weddings Taskforce and presented to Minister Paul Scully were:
- Financial: A cash grant and access to longer term financial help
- Consumer confidence: A “roadmap” to show how and when weddings will re-start
- Removal of roadblocks: Help with conversations with banks, the CMA and insurers
Does this mean we’ll be getting support and a roadmap?
Not necessarily. It is really important to note that this was the proposal that the UK Taskforce put forward to the Minister. Not only has nothing been agreed, but the Minister dealing with this is not the person that can give us the answers. However, he is the one that can ensure that the proposal reaches the right departments, including the Treasury. Our proposal is also supported by a number of MPs who will be adding pressure with the same message.
Why is this more relevant than previous meetings with the government?
Numerous groups and individuals have had many meetings with the government over the past 8 months, however each was representing a different part of the industry or different viewpoint, with conflicting solutions. In November, when the petition was heard in Parliament for guest numbers to be linked to capacity, Minister Scully asked the wedding industry to unite behind one clear message. The UK Weddings Taskforce is formed democratically with representatives from every wedding sector. The government know that solutions being put forward will help the entire industry.
Can we tell when weddings might be possible, and for what numbers?
Again, this is based on the proposal, but gives an indication of what the industry feel is reasonable, given all the available facts.
The Taskforce has asked for the Minister’s assistance on a plan that would allow a gradual opening up, so that weddings for 50+ guests are possible by Easter; the point at which we know the consequences of not opening become so much higher. It was proposed that venue capacity should be taken into consideration, with socially distanced venue capacity in Tier 1 and 50% of that capacity in Tier 2.
The Taskforce accepted that in Tier 3 and 4 the responsible and correct approach for all is to only allow weddings in exceptional circumstances.
Does that mean weddings before Easter are considered frustrated?
Not in our opinion. The government has given no indication of their post-lockdown plans. The aim of 50+ by Easter may involve a gradual opening from well before then, it is too early to know.
Will dancing and other restricted activities be allowed?
The Taskforce has proposed that the government agree on what a “minimum viable wedding” consists of. This would assist in many areas, including giving clarity on when a contract is frustrated and potentially allowing certain wedding businesses to access grants for “closed” sectors.
Will my business get financial support?
The first step is in securing support. Scotland have already secured £15m in financial grants. We have requested £680m for distribution across the UK on the basis that a grant of up to £10,000 would make a significant difference to the majority of wedding businesses.
However, this type of cash grant would be a drop in the ocean for larger businesses and particularly the venues, catering and marquee companies who have significant ongoing overheads. A number of creative solutions, including access to existing grants, loans and support schemes and extension of the JRS and business rate relief schemes, were proposed to assist those businesses. It was also proposed that all wedding businesses should have access to the 5% VAT rate, not just those classed as hospitality businesses.
Will there be help with cancellations and refunds
Consumer confidence is a high priority for the Taskforce and part of that is ensuring that both businesses and consumers will be treated fairly and reasonably. The Taskforce has asked for the Minister’s help in discussions with banks, insurers and the CMA to assist with this.
At Guides for Brides we’ve recognised that a lot of the financial issues businesses are experiencing are as a result of misleading information from the CMA, failure from insurers to settle claims from couples or businesses, and banks and insurers refusing to take on any new risk. Holding these businesses accountable and seeking constructive ways forward will make a significant difference over the next months.
When will we hear more?
The Taskforce will be issuing fortnightly updates to keep all wedding businesses fully informed. All of the key information is on ukweddings.org and although it isn’t intended for couples, you may find it helpful to share information from there if it reassures them.
The full Press Release is below and on ukweddings.org
You can read the full Industry Support Summary here.
824,000 UK WEDDINGS IN THE PIPELINE AS THE INDUSTRY ASKS MINISTERS “SUPPORT US NOW OR THE ENTIRE COUNTRY LOSES OUT”
Nearly one million weddings are in the post-pandemic pipeline, with an estimated boost to the economy of £43 billion over the next two years. 95% of couples have postponed rather than cancel their weddings. To realise this potential, government support is required to save the 60,000 businesses (employing 400,000 people) who have been largely unable to work since March 2020. 50 million people in the UK are likely to attend a wedding by the end of 2022. UK Weddings Taskforce – the official body designated to negotiate with the government – has called for a “perfectly reasonable and economically viable” financial support bridge to ensure the demand in weddings can be met.
The weddings sector, paralysed by the restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, has been unable to trade in any commercially viable form since March 2020. Currently weddings are prohibited. Many businesses report catastrophic losses and over three quarters of businesses have reported revenues down by over 75% (Source UK Weddings Survey).
Unlike other sectors, however, the majority (95%) of consumers have postponed rather than cancel their weddings with 220,000 UK weddings postponed since the first lockdown. With 475,000 weddings currently scheduled to take place in 2021, including 196,500 postponed from 2020, the industry is predicted to generate £25 billion for the UK economy in 2021. The sector is asking government for assistance and assurances to restore consumer confidence in businesses with a financial support bridge, and to provide clarity on a safe and realistic opening up of weddings from Easter to larger numbers now that the vaccine offers light at the end of the tunnel.
Having successfully made the case that business has not been lost but merely deferred, the recently formed, industry-appointed UK Weddings Taskforce is now officially representing the sector. It has been engaging in two-way communication with government via the Minister for Small Business, Paul Scully MP, and his department (BEIS).
The UK Weddings Taskforce is meeting with government Monday and urgently seeking:
- A financial support bridge for wedding businesses of £680m.
- Clarity for venues, businesses and couples with weddings in the pipeline between now and the summer.
- Measures to restore couples’ confidence in resuming their wedding planning for 2021 and beyond.
- Solutions to roadblocks in the way for couples and businesses that include insurers refusing to offer couples weddings insurance.
*WEDDING SECTOR KEY FACTS
Number of Weddings across the UK:
- 278,599 weddings occur every year in the UK (figures from the Offices of National Statistics for England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
- Over 260,000 weddings were postponed due to the pandemic in 2020 (based upon ONS average figures)
- Businesses responding last week to a survey by the UK Weddings Taskforce reported catastrophic losses, with over three quarters of businesses have reported revenues down by over 75%*
- An estimated 278,000 recently engaged couples are also planning to marry from 2021 onwards: when added to the postponed weddings from 2020, circa 475,000 weddings are in the 2021 pipeline (25bn) and 349,000 are in the 2022 pipeline (circa £18.4bn)
Wedding Industry Worth:
- There is an estimated £14.7bn direct spend on weddings every year:
- £9.4bn spend on the day itself
- £3.2bn spend on retail
- £2.1bn travel, tourism and pre-wedding events
Wedding Industry Workers:
- Approximately 400,000 workers are involved in weddings:
- 250,000 people depend on work related to delivering a wedding day itself
- 150,000 more work in support functions
- For every couple who attends a wedding as a guest, depending upon the size of the wedding between 1 and 4 people are involved in working to deliver the day itself, earning less than £25,000 per year on average.
- Majority female-driven, ethnically diverse and 50% small and micro businesses.
*UK Weddings Taskforce Survey of over 3000 wedding businesses Dec 24th 2020 – 12th Jan 2021
– ENDS –
For more please see ukweddings.org