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Thank you so much.
Caroline Nokes MP
House of Commons
Hon. Elizabeth Truss MP Minister for Women and Equalities
Government Equalities Office
16-20 Great Smith Street
Laura Farris MP
House of Commons
24th February 2021
We are writing to you as What About Weddings, the grassroots campaign of businesses and individuals across the wedding industry, to voice our utter dismay at yesterday’s announcement regarding the continued restrictions being placed on the wedding sector and to request a meeting with you to discuss this. Whilst some couples will be relieved that they will now be able to marry from mid- April with 15 guests, this plan leaves the industry on its knees with weeks ahead of no income and it will do tremendous damage to both the employment of women in the UK and to Asian communities.
The wedding industry, once a shining example of a sector led predominantly by female entrepreneurs worth £14.7 billion to the UK economy, has been misunderstood and belittled by an overwhelmingly male leadership. The latest news on the reopening of the sector has put businesses and livelihoods in serious jeopardy. We are a seasonal industry, with 79% of weddings occurring between 1st April and 31st October, and we will now miss out on another season’s income. Moreover, reopening the industry at arbitrary numbers of only 6, 15 or 30 guests means the vast majority of the proudly female-led sector will not be able to operate in a financially viable way. The result of this is 60,000 businesses and 400,000 workers, of which 80% are women, are likely to disappear.
Furthermore, the plan for the reopening of weddings seems to have also forgotten Asian Communities. The Asian wedding industry provides a third of sector’s economic contribution to the UK at circa £5 billion, and is immensely important from a societal and cultural perspective. Whilst not the only culture to suffer, Asian weddings that usually cater to 400-500 guests cannot proceed at even a tenth of this size. Businesses that specifically service these events will collapse and an institution that is the cornerstone for so many communities throughout Britain will be lost. This is further compounded by the loss of religious and cultural celebrations that could not take place last year, such as Diwali, Eid and Vaisakhi, which appear to have been largely ignored in comparison to the Government’s determination over Christmas celebrations.
In order to save women’s jobs and protect an institution at the heart of many Asian communities across the UK, the wedding industry must be able to operate a full socially distanced capacity much sooner than June. Beyond this point the industry’s most profitable time of year will be almost over. As such, we are therefore calling for the Government to make good on the Prime Ministers’ claim that they will “put our arms around business and livelihoods”. The wedding industry needs financial support through to April 2022. Without this guarantee, the sector and those businesses that rely on it, such as DJs, retailers and hairdressers, will crumble. In addition, inclusion in the reduced VAT rate and business rates relief is critical, as is a Government-backed wedding insurance scheme to help consumers and businesses.
It would be possible to throw the sector a lifeline by allowing greater numbers for outdoor weddings such as in marquees, structures and other outdoor settings. The scientific evidence proves that transmission of the disease is greatly reduced outdoors and, in tandem with the successful vaccine rollout and the protection this provides, outside weddings could proceed with a number of guests that would make the events financially viable for businesses. We therefore believe it is possible to bring back covid-secure weddings earlier than the timeline permits.
If the industry fails, the Government will lose the £3.8 billion that the industry contributes to the public purse annually.
Until the sector is supported by being allowed to open without the current severe and arbitrary number caps or is given financial support, the sector effectively remains closed for business.
We would be grateful if we could discuss this with you further in a short call as, until the sector is supported by being allowed to open without the current severe and arbitrary number caps or is given financial support, it effectively remains closed for business. If this is of interest to you, please contact my colleague at firstname.lastname@example.org who would be pleased to support.
Annabel Beeforth, Jessie Westwood and Tamryn Settle
What About Weddings
And all those named below (signatures will be added)