The UK’s Wedding industry will be permanently scarred without Government support!
The UK’s Wedding industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors due to the Covid-19 lockdown. It is one of the first business sectors to be adversely affected by the lockdown and likely to be the last one to recover. There is great frustration growing amongst the businesses related to the wedding industry about the exclusion of UK’s catering & wedding industry from the government proposals to support businesses in the wider hospitality sector. The hospitality sector plays a significant role in the UK economy by providing over 3 million jobs and contributing billions of pounds to our local and national economy.
The wedding venues, event caterers & suppliers have been left stranded due to the lockdown, and are likely to be permanently scarred due to the crisis, with large events such as weddings and social gatherings likely to be deferred until 2021. The reality is that all businesses related to the wedding industry are incurring huge losses and the majority of them do not even qualify for any grants due to higher council tax rates and may not survive a drop in income this large at a key time of the year. Even if the Government brings in new measures to help small businesses and self-employed people in the wedding industry, it is highly unlikely that it will match the income they would have made during that period.
Suleman Raza, the CEO of the Grand Sapphire Venue which one of the luxurious & the largest venues in London says , various wedding suppliers and venues have approached me from all over the UK, and they all share similar frustration and strongly feel that our sector has been neglected and overlooked with very limited support by the government. While I appreciate the measures already in place to support all industries such as the furloughing scheme, this pandemic has left us with minimal reserves to sustain through these crises. We are all facing the imminent threat of closure given the negligible revenue we were expected for the rest of the year, endangering so many jobs.
Grand Sapphire hotel is home to many small or large businesses that cater to those planning and preparing for weddings which have taken a hit during what would be their busiest time of the year. According to Statista UK, over half of weddings in the UK take place on a Saturday, and 17 per cent of all UK weddings take place in the summer July/August every year and with large events such as weddings and social gatherings likely to be deferred until 2021 it has endangered the livelihood of many wedding suppliers such as caterers, wedding planners, decorators, cake suppliers, wedding bands and DJs, photographers, florists and makeup artists, who rely on individual bookings as their source of steady income.
We must not forget the emotional impact on the couples, individuals and families, who had their weddings and biggest day of their lives all planned & booked, are also financially worse off; They had to deal with the emotional and mental trauma and stress of not being able to hold their big day. They are stressed about the cancellation of their weddings over the last three months with no indication or clear guidance from the government about when they will be able to organise it again. Majority of couples are seeking professional help for their mental health and wellbeing to cope with the situation.
We know the phase three of the government’s road map started on 4th July 2020 and businesses that fall within the hospitality sector, i.e. restaurants, pubs and other such places have been allowed to reopen in line with government guidance, however, because the guidance does not extend to wedding venues/halls and these businesses do, therefore, potentially face the imminent threat of closure. I don’t think the government even has a clue about the scale of impact it had on the businesses related to the wedding industry.
There will be minimum chances of spreading the virus in huge venues like Grand Sapphire, and many other venues, instead of much smaller pubs and restaurants, as several of those attending the weddings will be from the same household, and they would be seated together. At Grand Sapphire we would ensure that guests from other households and families are fully aware that they will have to downsize their guest list and seat 1-2 metres away from those they done live with. In the unfortunate and unlikely event of a COVID case, all guests could be tracked, traced and informed with ease.
We recently won the “Best Wedding Venue Award” at the London Venue Awards in Hurlingham Club while competing against some of the Iconic venues in London. We are undertaking all the necessary steps to ensure that the health and safety of guests attending the events and our employees. We are also quite certain that the environment we seek to provide for the guests looking to attend weddings will be much safer than restaurants and pubs as we have huge space to exercise social distancing as large space would be ideal for executing it with very low risk.
Our requests from the government are clear, the government could really help venues like Grand Sapphire if they:
- Extend the grants to those venues, event caterers & suppliers whose rateable value is over £51000.00
- Bring forward legislation which prevents insurance companies from rejecting or delaying legitimate claims of business interruption
- Extend repayment of deferred VAT
- Extend furlough payments until Q1 of 2021
- Offer further support in the shape of special grants for wedding venues and event caterers and suppliers.
I urge the chancellor Rishi Sunak MP and the business secretary Alok Sharma MP to include the “event caterers & wedding venues” as part of the hospitality “definition” and help our voice to be heard and allow wedding venues to start operating as part of the government’s roadmap that started on 4th July 2020 at limited capacity as it will help us sustain through the crisis and continue our immense cultural, social and economic contribution into the national economy.
There is a petition which has already been set up and signed by over 150,000 people to urge the government to offer economic support to the crippling events industry during the Covid-19. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/301186
Written By: Suleman Raza, CEO Grand Sapphire Hotel & Wedding venue