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Irish events sector says government support ‘inadequate’

Events businesses in Ireland have expressed their dissatisfaction over a new €60m government support scheme designed to help them survive through COVID-19.

The Covid-19 Business Aid Scheme will offer grants of up to €8,000 to companies whose turnover has fallen at least 75 per cent due to restrictions.

The funding will be divided equally over two quarters and specifically includes businesses in the events and exhibitions sectors.

The scheme has been designed to help businesses that do not qualify for assistance under the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) or tourism support funds.

However, the Irish Exhibition Organisers’ Association (IEOA) said the funding is “inadequate” and will unlikely make much of a difference to keeping businesses afloat.

Garret Buckley, chairperson of IEOA, said, according to RTÉ News, that the industry had expected that the new scheme would be similar to the CRSS, where qualifying firms can claim as much as €5,000 a week to cover their fixed costs.

He added: “We were offered crumbs and we don’t understand why we are so different to SMEs supported by the CRSS.”

Event companies have pivoted their businesses to online and virtual events, but Buckley added that it is clear that for many there is a need for people to be able to meet in person.

“There is desperation coming into it now,” he said.

Roisin Callaghan, spokesperson for Events Industry Ireland, pointed out that the funding would equate to €350 per week for businesses.

She added: “While we acknowledge there are tons of things out there (to help businesses), none of them are hitting the mark for our members.

“The Government has said we can’t work but they are not helping us to not work.”

Representatives of the sector have met with the minister for trade promotion, digital and company regulation to express their concerns.

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