Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association (mia), said: “Following the devastating effects of the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday and the reaction from our members, our sector was forced into making crisis and damaging decisions today such as reductions of staff, services and closures. “We are grateful that the Chancellor has recognised and is finally listening to our industry’s challenges – in particular, in response to our request to provide short-term rate relief for all businesses, not just those with rateable values of less than £51,000. It is good that he will also now be standing behind both small and large-sized organisations – which make up a large part of our industry. “The people packages go some way to supporting the continuous employment of our valued teams. Our industry has already suffered from the reeling outcomes of Brexit, so our focus must now also be on the retention of a talented workforce to provide the highest standards and profitable service to the events world. “But, the government’s support for businesses through the coming months are short-term measures, which are based on the provision of loans that will still need repaying. Instead, funds need to be readily accessible and realistic for the long-term. His messages were also clouded in ambiguity in relation to mass gatherings. “The mia will continue to apply pressure to ensure the business event sector can bounce back in a timely manner from this pandemic and that the government delivers on its promise ‘to do whatever it takes’.” The mia is offering guidance to the sector to assist contract negotiations and to help mitigate the impact of Coronavirus COVID-19 on trade, which can be downloaded here. To register for regular COVID-19 updates visit https://www.mia-uk.org/Coronavirus.