Budget cuts could squeeze UK exhibitions
by Annie Byrne
The impact of the Budget on the exhibition industry is likely to include a cutback in civil service spend on meetings, as the government has to come up with £24bn of further savings if it is to plug a shortfall in Treasury coffers.The Treasury has admitted that only £10.8bn of the £35bn savings target set in 2008-09 has been achieved in the first two years, leaving £24bn outstanding for 2010-11. A further £20bn has been earmarked for efficiency savings.The exhibition industry could feel a disproportionate squeeze, with £650m to be cut from government’s use of management consultants and marketing. £35m is to be cut from the Culture, Media and Sport back office, for consultancy and marketing, the department where business tourism currently resides.Regional Development Associations are to be ‘streamlined’ to the tune of £70m. Many exhibition and convention centre projects depend, to a large extent, on RDA support.Government quangos will lose 20 per cent of their staff and 120 of these bodies will be merged.Cuts in flight and IT budgets for civil servants are also likely to be swingeing.The silver lining is that regional exhibition venues and services may benefit from the 15,000 civil servants set to be relocated from London over the next five years.There will be a reliance more on online communications and conference calls, the Chancellor said.After recent regional Cabinet meetings, a report by former chief executive of Reed Elsevier, Ian Smith, has suggested some ministers and their private offices also move out to the regions, with clusters of civil servants moving closer to other public services.