The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) acknowledges the announcement from the Federal Government yesterday in relation to the changes to the Business Events Grant Program as part of the National Economic Recovery Plan.
BECA’s feedback on Business Events Grant Program challenges have been considered and contributed to the announced extension and enhancements to the current program guidelines. The grant program was designed to assist those attending and participating in business events, but with a loss of business confidence due to border uncertainty, BECA remains committed to solutions that mitigate these risks preventing event owners from planning and booking future business events.
BECA will continue its work with Government on mechanisms that will get in-person business events back on schedule for associations and corporations, and stem the flow to virtual meetings where little economic benefit is realised.
Changes to the Program announced so far include:
– The minimum grant amount will be reduced to $5,000 (from $10,000) to allow smaller businesses the opportunity to apply.
– Extending the support for events scheduled through to 31 March 2022 to allow events that were postponed early 2021 the opportunity to benefit from the program.
– Increasing the number of delegates covered by the grant.
– Increasing the sponsorship cap.
– Expanding the priority sectors.
Applications for the grant will be extended to 30 June 2021 and an updated version of the program guidelines and eligibility criteria for the Schedule of Approved Business Events will be published by end of March.
These changes will assist in a greater distribution of funds to support participation in approved events over the next 12 months and contribute vital cash flow to the business events supply chain.
In the statements yesterday both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg commented the next step in the Government’s National Economic Recovery Plan would target the businesses, workers and regions still doing it tough with proportionate, timely, scalable and targeted assistance.
BECA’s recent survey of business owners, freelancers and contractors clearly demonstrates just how tough it is for the business events industry and the need for more targeted support to ensure we do not lose our critical core capacity and capability. If we drop below this baseline our recovery will be seriously delayed and we risk losing market share to other countries. Key findings highlight that:
1. While 87% of business events businesses accessed the initial JobKeeper program to September 2020, reliance on the wage subsidy has only decreased slightly to 85% for the January to March 2021 period.
2. With JobKeeper scheduled to conclude on 28 March, 47% of businesses will make more staff redundant, and without further government support, 23% of businesses will close.
3. 61% of business events businesses saw a 75-100% reduction in turnover for 2020 compared to 2019, while 44% forecast the same result for the 6-months to June 2021.
4. The business events industry has also seen a shift in confidence with 50% now believing they will return to pre-crisis levels in ‘3-5 years’ – a significant 10% shift from the ‘1-2 year’ response in July 2020.
Dr Vanessa Findlay, BECA Chair, stated: “The business events industry is clearly a sector that requires targeted assistance to enable its recovery. Given the challenges we are facing with operating restrictions, border closures, consumer confidence to travel to participate in events and the lead time required to plan and deliver events, our research shows the industry is still 9-12 months away from any significant return to business operations.”
“Targeted support is critical to sustain valuable businesses and event professionals in the interim period as is the timing and implementation of this support. We consider the announcement yesterday as a starting point of what is required by Government to support the sector and look forward to continuing our consultation with the Government to develop targeted solutions to achieve these outcomes as a priority.”