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ESSA slaps Government with Freedom of Information request

The UK's Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) has announced that it is making a Freedom of Information (FOI) request of the Government.

The request is part of an effort by ESSA to determine the reasoning behind recent UK Government decisions, not limited to the postponement of the so-called ‘go date’ for exhibitions and other large events on 1 October 2020 being abandoned.

ESSA says it is requesting information across 16 distinct areas.

Andrew Harrison, the association’s director, said that members are growing increasingly exasperated with the lack of clarity and support from the Government throughout the pandemic.

“While many have been grateful for the financial help offered by the national furlough scheme and access to loans, there still appears to be little recognition that event industry businesses are suffering especially hard with little or no information forthcoming from government,” he said.

ESSA chair Lou Kiwanuka said that together with partner associations, ESSA had worked for most of 2020 on creating the All Secure Standard, the strict safety guidance for large events, but that the industry was still no nearer being allowed to operate, and no targeted support on offer to sustain many businesses.

She said: “We have worked with the government very closely on creating the All Secure Standard, gained sign off for our pilot events, provided copious amounts of feedback on the current situation within our sector, and garnered the support of many constituency MP’s for our plight, yet the events industry supply chain is still on the verge of collapse with no meaningful support for the event supply chain.”

Kiwanuka added that the FOI request is one of the remaining options available to understand why the UK Government has not been open with the events industry. She added: “This FOI request is one of the few remaining tools at our disposal to reveal why the Government has made some of its decisions. We want to help reignite the economy by bringing about the successful, sustainable, and safe return of business events. But we cannot do that unless we know why our efforts were unsuccessful during certain key moments in the last nine months, when we can start planning for a possible restart date in the future and most critically now, how the supply chain will survive until then.

“This is becoming increasingly difficult for all of us especially with bounce back loan repayments looming. ESSA is committed to keep the focus on these key areas and we would ask our members and broader community to write once again to MPs and council leaders to seek support for our sector.”

The Government has 20 working days to respond under the Freedom of Information Act.