Calls for additional support as NEC Group slashes workforce

There are accusations that the Government hasn't done enough to support the events industry, after the NEC Group said it is cutting 450 jobs - more than half of its workforce.

The Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce has told ITV News Central that support measures have been 'inadequate'. 

The UK’s number one live events business looks to let go of 55% of its permanent workforce due to the impact of coronavirus. 

Before the pandemic, annual revenues for the Group were around £160 million. In the past seven months that has plummeted to almost nothing. 

The firm does not qualify for the Government’s Job Support Scheme or get any of the Culture Support Package. 

Paul Faulkner, CEO of Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, says it is ‘critical’ the NEC and events industry is supported further by the Government. 

Saqib Bhatti, MP for Meriden (Con) says he expects a response from the Government as the second wave of the virus takes hold.

In a statement, the events business added that they “enable a wider economic impact of £3 billion, supporting approximately 40,000 jobs, in the West Midlands.”

NEC Group CEO, Paul Thandi, said: 

“It has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but if we have any chance of surviving the current market conditions, and returning to being a major economic contributor, post-pandemic, we must reduce our cost base significantly.

“The retraction of the 1st October date, which would have permitted us to hold trade exhibitions and conferences with over 30 visitors, was a major blow. Like all major venues, the Group has implemented stringent safety measures to ensure its venues can safely host business events and conferences, and welcome back the staff who have been on furlough since April.

“For companies like us, with minimal levels of activity, we are unable to make use of the Government’s recently announced Job Support Scheme. This, together with this sector’s inability to access the £1.57 billion culture support package, has added to what has become an unsustainable position.

“Live events are integral to long-term economic recovery. We ask that the Government work with strategic economic assets like us, to ensure that a balanced and fast-moving economy remains to face the challenges beyond 2020.”