"We've been living in a very comfy world" - The industry's Brexit concerns

Like many industries in the UK, the event production industry has concerns about the potential impact of Britain leaving the European Union. Although there is a wide range of information available on gov.co.uk it can be difficult to track down specific answers to specific questions.

In an attempt to combat this, PLASA and the MIA applied for and were granted government funding available to associations, and in just two weeks put together a stellar line-up of experts to discuss three key topics around Brexit: the economy, logistics and people.

Much of the economy discussion focused on currency fluctuations and potential changes to contracts, with panelist Ros Kellaway of Eversheds Sutherland urging business owners in the industry to take a close look at their existing contracts with suppliers and customers.

Charles Porter of SGM-FX foreign exchange services pointed out that, while Britain is a strong trading ally to its closest geographical neighbours, there was the potential for another European country with less reliance on the UK to block a potential trade deal.

Business owners worried about tariff and rule changes around customs can find support from customs brokers or advice through freight and delivery companies.

Kellaway speculated that the border at the ports would be “functional but suboptimal” for a number of months after Brexit takes effect, with many businesses being directed to ports other than Dover.

Operation Brock, which this week was launched then abruptly stood down as Brexit was extended yet again, is an ambitious traffic management plan which will impact lorries and M20 traffic in the months after Brexit takes effect.

Moving freight and products in and out of the EU will likely become similar to dealing with countries in the rest of the world, with more specific documents needed for each European country.

One potential area of difficulty for the event production industry could be the transportation of merchandise, as only a portion of the products leaving the UK would come back again. Another potential issue is longer term tours which extend beyond the one-year limit of the carnet. Businesses are again advised to consult the gov.co.uk website and make use of the appropriate government department helplines.

Peter Bishop, interim CEO of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, advised delegates that long terms tours might be better off paying duty than arranging a carnet. The Logistics panel pointed out that fines for incorrect paperwork at the ports might result in a £300 fine or €1,000 on the French side.

People power

For the People panel, businesses were told to encourage EU national employees to apply for settled status. The deadline (as with all things Brexit very much subject to change) for this application is 31 December 2020 in the event of no deal and 20 June 2021 in the event of a deal. Additionally it will likely become a form of discrimination to ask EU workers for proof of their settled status.

Nicky Gleadow, MD of The HR Point, highlighted a statistic from The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development which found that since June 2016 there had been a 95% fall in EU nationals joining the workforce - a worrying statistic for businesses looking to hire high numbers of temporary workers. Another relevant point was that regulations from the EU such as the 48-hour maximum working week might end when Brexit takes effect.

David Barnard of the Musicians’ Union urged business leaders to tackling potential staff shortages by focusing on employee welfare and workers rights, which have a clear link to retention and productivity.

The Brexit Industry Forum took place on Friday 25th October at the Victory Services Club. Full discussions from this event and the sister event in Leeds can be found on the PLASA YouTube channel.