As with all crises, support comes as part of a knee jerk reaction, providing encouragement through the initial phase of a debilitating period for companies and individuals across the UK. What tends to happen after the initial phase has departed is that Government’s withdraw support at the most crucial phase, the “regrowth” stage.
This is when companies need to be able to call on grants to underpin uncertain times as they struggle to come to terms with the realities of getting back to work and delivering undefined and often tentative plans to move through the barriers facing everyone. Yes, you can get a loan, but this has to be paid back; and how many self-employed or small, medium and even large companies in the events sector are willing to take that risk?
Many are hoping that work will return as it did before, whilst others have been buoyed by the initial rush back to sectors like events, transport and hospitality. However, many don’t know whether to continue in the same vein or restructure themselves for a new and often unusual world… Spare a thought for freelancers, hit hard by the virus. These individuals, for example those who supply companies in the arts and entertainment world, were hit hard by the funding crisis and many had to find other work as they had nothing for eighteen months. Those with school uniforms to buy for a new term, new shoes, fretting about paying for kids to go to university and often trying to keep a hand to mouth existence going are still struggling.
With the government withdrawing furlough, a new bridging payment is needed to help companies and individuals through this difficult period. Although people are returning to public transport, events, shops and holidays, it is often done with sense of trepidation and a thought that the next wave could be just around the corner.
The media don’t help either, focussing on events and singling out festivals as the ‘super spreaders’, when the whole idea of test events is just that, we find out how the spreading takes place, for example, which age groups and genres show more prevalence. This is a key step in the normalisation process and the reduction of the spread, and not just a bunch of loonies spreading the virus at will. Without the tests we lack data and without data we lack the means to reduce infections and provide knowledge about how to live with this debilitating virus.
Viewpoint by Professor Chris Kemp; CEO of Mind Over Matter Consultancy Ltd (MOM)