All sectors of hospitality have been battered by the impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent restrictions that have adversely affected their businesses. However, the wedding industry, which is worth £14.7bn a year in the UK, has often missed out on the raft of financial packages, with support packages not tailored to their needs.
This week, the CLA briefed all rural MPs on the economic impact felt by the wedding sector ahead of a debate in Parliament about the impact Covid-19 has had on hospitality.
Around 200,000 weddings have been delayed or cancelled since March 2020 - a heavy blow to the sector, with losses racking up at least to £6.4bn. And this isn’t just an issue for venues either - the supply chain extends to caterers, florists and photographers to name a few.
So, what can the Treasury do? Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix to get weddings back on their feet. The peak season is generally only for a few months between April and September, and there is now a significant backlog of couples who have already had to place their day on hold. But there are areas in which pressure could be relieved.
The CLA has outlined several key areas of support to politicians, including business rate relief. The government was quick to defer business rates in 2020, but these are due to resume at the start of the new fiscal year. However, many businesses in the wedding sector are unlikely to make any income before April. The CLA is calling for the deferment to continue and a sensible repayment framework to be introduced, where possible, to prevent businesses from disappearing.
There have also been frustrations from many venue owners unable to claim insurance payments for business interruption but still paying out refunds to couples. The government must be clear with the insurance sector on these valid claims.
We are all keen to return to normal life and attend celebratory events such as weddings and parties, and even go on holiday. What the hospitality sector needs is a sensible roadmap for when they will be able to reopen (when it is safe to do so) and the ability to plan for the future. The CLA will continue to work with parliamentarians to make sure rural businesses survive these difficult times.
- Following continued CLA lobbying, a number of MPs have sent a joint letter to Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, calling for urgent support measures to be put in place for the wedding industry.