Conference News December/ January 2022 - Page 10

10 SIC Codes

SIC CODES : TIME FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE CHANGES

Martin Fullard revisits the thorny issue of SIC codes , and says that the Government must act to change them , or the events industry will never recover
n 2020 , I wrote a piece called ‘ Why has the events industry been left behind ’, and it seemed to resonate . Checking back , 43,841 of you read it . The thrust of it was that the events industry is not correctly administrated by Companies House and , as a result , many businesses that operate in the UK ’ s world of events are ‘ assigned ’ elsewhere . The net result being that , in black and white on the paper before them , in the eyes of HM Treasury and Office for National Statistics ( ONS ), the events industry does not exist … in the way we say it does .
Before the pandemic , conferences and meetings were worth £ 18.3m to the UK economy in direct spend annually and forms the single largest element of the total £ 84bn events ecosystem . But this figure is the result of manual research , and not a figure awarded to us by central Government . While the Department for Digital , Culture , Media and Sport accepts this , HM Treasury does not – and I understand that . That ’ s a big word to take .
During the pandemic , social media was awash with comments lamenting the Government ’ s failure to fully recognise the industry and its value , but this won ’ t change unless meaningful data can be provided . Indeed , ‘ our ’ minster , tourism minister Nigel Huddleston , said this recently ( read on p27 ).
While the short-term objective of our sector is to simply survive the pandemic , and this Autumn window has probably helped that , we must work towards developing a formal structure in the SIC code system in the medium-term . However , this presents a challenge .
First of all , we must have a full set of SIC codes . At present , of the 752 codes that exist , only four directly link to the events industry . They are : Section L : 68202 , Letting and operating of conference and exhibition centre ; Section N , 82301 assigned to ‘ activities of exhibition organisers ’, 82302 ‘ activities of conference organisers ’, and Section I notes 56210 is assigned to ‘ event catering activities ’. So , not much to go on for an industry as diverse as ours .
Poor take-up
Last year , I took myself to Companies House where , armed with a sample list of 200 venues , organisers , agencies , and suppliers , I investigated who is registered as what .
The results were illuminating and prove the point I am trying to make . Of the 200 businesses I selected off the top of my head , only 30 were assigned to one of the three available SIC codes .
About half of them are registered as ‘ 96090 - Other service activities not elsewhere classified ’. Many venues are registered as ‘ 55100 - Hotels and similar accommodation ’. Agencies were the biggest “ offenders ”, with SIC code assignments including ‘ 59112 - Video production activities ’, ‘ 73110 - Advertising agencies ’, ‘ 70210 - Public relations and www . conference-news . co . uk