It's no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on wedding businesses and couples alike. At the end of 2020, an industry-led and Government supported taskforce was established to represent the industry and support the recovery of wedding businesses. Here, we explain the aims of the UK Weddings Taskforce, share latest updates and news, and detail how you can get involved.
What is The UK Weddings Taskforce?
The UK Weddings Taskforce was established to act as a unified voice representing all areas of the UK wedding industry during the global coronavirus pandemic. Typically, a taskforce is set up to tackle a specific problem. In this case, The UK Weddings Taskforce aims to find and promote ways that the Government can ease the enormous pressure all wedding businesses have come under since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
The huge impact of the pandemic made it clear that the wedding industry requires unity and the Taskforce has sought to do just that. The Taskforce Council comprises 25 associations, representatives from all the leading media and digital platforms like Hitched, as well as from the exhibitions business.
Formed in 2020, the UK Weddings Taskforce is Government supported with the Minister for Business, Paul Scully MP, agreeing to work with the Taskforce on a number of measures (more of that to follow), including a plan for the safe re-opening of the sector.
Why Do We Need The UK Weddings Taskforce?
Coronavirus has hit the wedding industry hard. Because of the restrictions in the UK, wedding businesses have been prohibited from trading in a commercially viable form since March 2020 and, in many cases, without access to Government grants and relief. Many businesses have reported huge losses and over three quarters of businesses have reported revenues down by more than 75%*.
Government support is needed now to save the 60,000 businesses who have been largely unable to operate since the pandemic began. With nearly one million weddings estimated to be in the post-pandemic pipeline (which would provide an estimated boost to the economy of £43bn over the next two years), the sector requires a financial support bridge from the Government to survive.
The Taskforce is keen to find workable solutions for the businesses that have been paralysed by the pandemic restrictions. The sector provides employment from more than 400,000 people so it’s critical that the industry remains viable, and can open up as quickly as possible when it’s safe to do so.
Who Makes up The UK Weddings Taskforce?
The team of people who make up the Taskforce are known as the UK Weddings Council of Representatives. The COR is made up of associations, professional bodies and groups from various sectors within the industry.
There are eight Working Groups within the Taskforce, to ensure that each area is represented. Each working group contains industry professionals with specific expertise to tackle the key priorities the Taskforce needs to address, and an elected Chairperson. The working groups are:
Focus: all aspects of UK wedding ceremonies
2. Commercial & Legal
Focus: commercial and legal aspects of the UK wedding industry
Focus: B2B and B2C communications
4. Large Scale Weddings
Focus: issues faced for large scale and multi-day weddings across the sector
5. Opening Up
Focus: getting UK weddings back up and running
6. Political Engagement
Focus: ongoing engagement with Government
Focus: representing business in all areas of the wedding industry
Focus: the UK wedding industry Retail Sector
What is The UK Weddings Taskforce Asking for?
Here’s an overview of what the Taskforce have asked Paul Scully MP for:
- A roadmap for the gradual, safe reopening of weddings in line with government plans to publish its exit strategy on 22nd February
- A sector specific support grant of £680 million available to eligible wedding businesses
- Access to support available to closely related sectors (such as hospitality) including the 5% VAT temporary reduction and rates relief
- Extension and adaptation of existing support programmes
- Measures to protect couples
How Can You Help?
If you’d like to be involved in the Taskforce itself, The Working Groups Chairs are currently recruiting additional members to their teams. If you would like to apply to volunteer, you can fill in a form and select the relevant Working Group on the UK Weddings Taskforce site.
There are lots of ways you can support the work of the Taskforce, as well as staying up to date with the latest news and details of upcoming webinars. Make sure you’re signed up to receive updates and follow the UK Weddings Taskforce Instagram and Twitter accounts. Now is the time to show your support for your industry, so share, comment and like as much content as possible!
Lobbying your MP is now more important than ever, so please get in touch with your MP and ask them to lend their support. We have an MP letter template for wedding businesses you can copy and paste here, and an MP letter template for couples you can copy and paste here.
What’s the Latest?
12th February 2021 - The Taskforce Presents Parliament with 5 Priority Enablers
The Taskforce have shared a summary document with Downing Street, BEIS and MP Scully, outlining the five priority enablers needed to support the entirety of the industry and a gradual return to normal. These are:
- Minimum 50 guests or Socially Distanced Capacity (whichever is the lower number) – fewer is not commercially viable for most businesses and should be considered for LRSG (Closed).
- A wedding sector specific grant of £680m to support 60,000 businesses.
- The Hospitality 5% VAT rate extended to all wedding businesses until April 2022.
- Business Rates Relief to be extended to April 2022.
- JRS to be extended to July 2021 and to include NI and pension payments.
8th February 2021 - 10 Downing Street Thanks Taskforce for 'Hugely Helpful' Meeting
On Monday 8th February, the Taskforce met with representatives from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, and Number 10, to discuss their request for support and if weddings would be included in the roadmap announcement on 22nd February.
Number 10 confirmed that the Taskforce’s solution for a safe reopening of weddings will be included in representations to the PM's COVID Taskforce - which has been tasked with unlocking the economy. Minister Paul Scully confirmed that his department has lobbied HM Treasury and the Taskforce has secured a meeting with the Chancellor's team for later this week.
The Government also advised that they shall provide much needed clarity once the roadmap has been developed.
4th February 2021 - 10 Downing Street Requests Meeting with The Taskforce
The Taskforce have announced that a meeting at 10 Downing Street has been secured for the week commencing 8th February. During the meeting the Taskforce will discuss their support request and press for weddings to be included in roadmap announcements expected to be made by the Prime Minister on 22nd February.
2nd February 2021 - 84 MPs Rally Behind Wedding Businesses with Letter of Support
A cross-party group of MPs has written to Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, voicing concern at the situation facing the Wedding Industry. The Minister has agreed to raise a set of asks with HM Treasury ahead of next month’s Budget.
The letter outlined the pent-up demand in the industry, worth £25bn to the British economy within the first 12 months once trading returns. The MPs argue that the sector – worth an average of £14.7 billion to the UK economy each year – requires urgent attention and bridging support to stay solvent, fulfil upcoming bookings, maintain jobs and boost the economy when restrictions are lifted.
19th Jan 2021 - Minister for Small Business, Paul Scully MP, Agrees to Submit The UK Weddings Taskforce Grant Request
The Minister for Small Business, Paul Scully MP, agreed to submit a grant request to the Chancellor and work with the Taskforce on a number of measures, including a plan for the safe re-opening of the wedding sector. The request includes:
- a sector specific support grant of £680m available to all wedding businesses (this is similar to support available to closely related sectors such as hospitality, including the 5% VAT temporary reduction)
- extension and adaptation of existing support programs
- measures to protect deposits
- a roadmap for the gradual, safe reopening of our sector to 50+ guest numbers from Easter weekend
*(Source UK Weddings Survey).