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UK ticket agents brace for redundancies from next month

Ticket agents in the UK are likely to begin making redundancies during the next quarter after concerns were raised about the tapering and eventual ending of government assistance.

According to documents seen by TheTicketingBusiness, the cuts will need to be made by ticketing firms to be able to navigate through the continuing COVID-19 crisis with zero income and the consequential impact on reserves.

The document — which is a draft of evidence from a key industry body to be submitted to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee as part of its inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on DCMS Sectors — states that these redundancies will most likely become necessary in Q3, which begins in July, and Q4 of 2020.

The Job Retention Scheme (JRS) has been widely accessed by ticket operators. Some businesses have been able to make use of other Government help, including the HMRC Time to Pay Scheme and the Business Rates Holiday, with some indicating that they have also accessed the Small Business Grants Scheme and Bounce Back loans.

For ticketing system suppliers, a return to business relies on the opening of venues and events and many venues have already reached financial difficulty and that there will be a knock-on effect on some ticketing suppliers in respect of existing contracts, non-payment of contracted fees and terminations.

Total ticketing revenue for the UK live entertainment industry is £2.62bn, with ticket agents selling approximately £1.8bn of those tickets, according to Mintel’s Music, Concerts and Festivals UK report. With per ticket booking fee income averaged across all markets at 9.85 per cent, that equates to income to ticket agents of around £179m a year.

However, there may be some additional income streams where agents provide venue ticketing systems and different revenue arrangements are in place.

In terms of returning to full business operations, the evidence cites consumer confidence, a reduction in buying power as a result of the inevitable recession and the absence of inbound tourism as the key inhibitors, especially alongside caution within the industry to take risks until the situation becomes more certain.

In addition to reopening, it states that it is inevitable that there will need to be some changes in terms of policies and technology to help manage safe buildings and processes and to encourage consumer confidence.

Evidence to the DCMS inquiry must be submitted by the end of today. Many theatres and other cultural organisations, including UK Music, are among those to already send their evidence to the Parliamentary committee.