Jane Longhurst, chief executive of The Meetings Industry Association, said: “On behalf of the sector we are relieved to hear that Rishi Sunak is extending the furlough scheme UK-wide until 31 March, and that the government will continue to cover 80% of employees’ wages as it gives the financial assurance that will enable businesses to start planning for the longer-term.
“Business meetings and events organisations will only be required to cover national insurance and pension contributions for employees who have been furloughed under the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, similar to the previous arrangement, which was in place in August 2020. The level of support will then be reviewed in January.
“As we currently understand it, employers will be able to claim furlough backdated to 23 September, which could potentially give some in the sector, who have been forced to make redundancies, the chance to consider whether their business can re-employ those staff if they meet the eligibility criteria.
“Today’s lifeline gives the sector the time to continue educating the government how our industry can re-open and operate business meetings and events safely and securely, and not be restricted to 30 delegates in attendance. When we are given the green light to reopen, we don’t want the restriction to delegates to still be in place.”