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Fear That Flagship Events Will Be Lost Without Further Support

16 Jersey event companies have written a joint letter to Ministers pleading for more financial support - whilst warning that everyone will be impacted if the industry was 'allowed to collapse and disappear'.

They were forced to effectively close last March and haven't been able to operate since because of Covid restrictions on gatherings and close contact.

The businesses have called the support package announced earlier this month 'not fit for purpose' and have expressed their 'disappointment, frustration and anger'.

They included covering 80% of fixed costs between October 2020 and April 2021, but only if the company has previously turned over at least £300,000 and had that fall by at least half because of coronavirus restrictions.

That has been described as 'woefully inadequate' and a 'futile attempt to show that the Government has offered some support', with most unable to meet those requirements.

"It is nothing short of a punitive scheme, due to the unrealistic criteria of applying to it, that simply veneers over the agony that the industry is suffering from."

That package came nearly six months after industry representatives met Ministers to ask for more help.

"We respectfully request an explanation as to why this scheme has taken so long and the reluctance to support these business’s which contribute hugely to the island’s economy and supports every other industry within the island and every Government department. It was suggested to us, through earlier discussions via Jersey Business, that any government support scheme for our industry was likely to be backdated to start from Sept 2020 onwards, which disappointingly, appears to not be the case.

"Whilst we fully understand the need to follow medical advice, our industry has been hugely impacted and detrimented without any recovery since March. This has been directly caused by government restrictions and we cannot return to business in any meaningful way (and will not be able to for many more months to come). We have no choice but to accept this, but in return, it should be Government's responsibility to support our industry."

The industry wants all of their fixed costs to be covered in a new government support package to ensure their survival.

Other requests include:

* A sliding scale of detriment to include those businesses that have suffered less than a 50% hit in a particular month.

* Any fixed costs incurred on an annual basis (not between October 2020 and April 2021) can be applied for e.g. an annual insurance premium to the tune of 1 1/12th each month.

* Fixed costs are claimable for those businesses who have premises and offices, but also to those who work from their homes.

They also want a timeframe for when small, medium and large gatherings can return.

"The UK has supplied grants schemes for similar business to allow them to continue throughout enforced lockdown. This would help a little towards the catastrophic losses of trading profits and cash flow of all severely affected businesses.

"Our fear is that the island will lose some of its flagship events if this isn’t offered or implemented.

"This would have a serious knock-on effect on a large number of suppliers as well seeing a detrimental impact on the island's overall community.

"Under normal trading conditions, at this time, we would all be re-investing in our business but are unable to do so with no discernible income let alone any profit. If unable to re-invest and unable to claim depreciation then this will begin a downward spiral which will ultimately lead to “Zombie Businesses” which is not good for anyone."

The companies to write the letter are:

* Delta Events
* Stage 2 Productions
* Marquee Solutions
* Weekender Festival
* Harpers Catering
* Jersey Kitchen
* Royal Jersey Showground Events
* The Event Shop
* 3D Events
* Vibert Marquees
* Vittoria Nightclub
* Rojos Nightclub
* Blkout Events
* Out There Festival
* TogetherParties
* Havana Nightclub

The letter sent to Ministers asking for more support.

Large events like the Weekender Festival and the Battle of Flowers were unable to go ahead last year because of the pandemic - and it's uncertain whether they'll go ahead this year either.

Rob Ritchie from Stage 2 says losing companies like theirs will come at a huge price.

"We have the co-funding and the co-funding is very helpful, but the co-funding currently is only 80%. It did go down to 60% at one point.

"It leaves businesses that don't have an income to find that extra amount plus all of the other associated costs of employing people, running a business, and keeping a business open.

"Birthday parties, weddings, funerals - we literally do thousands of events every year.

"If you removed the bigger companies particularly, the ability for those events to happen won't be around because they can't do it without the support network of the technical companies - and replacing the technical companies and the suppliers will take years."

"It (a new support package) needs to be appropriate and appropriate to the detriment that those particular businesses, I think, are suffering.

"There is no point in lumping us all in the same bowel and giving everyone the same because some people will actually benefit from that and some people will be far short of what they need."

Rojo Nightclub started a Crowdfunder last week because of the financial pressures it is under. More than £13,500 has been raised so far.

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