Coronavirus (COVID-19) business support: equality impact assessments

Detailed equality impact assessments (EQIAs) for the COVID-19 business support funding issued between March 2020 and April 2021.

Events Industry Support Funds 1 & 2

Name of Grant:

Events Industry Support Fund & Events Industry Support Fund 2

Policy Lead

Lucy Carmichael, Major Events Policy

Legal power used:

As VisitScotland is a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) it is covered by the Scottish Budget in particular Schedule 1 purpose 8 of the Budget (Scotland) Act 2021 which gives the Scottish Ministers the power to fund tourism.

Funding is delivered through the grant making powers of

  • Sections 126 and 127 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. It is made on the basis that the funding is fostering employment as an express purpose as well as stopping areas being blighted by the collapse of employment; and
  • Section 23 of the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985 that gives Scottish Ministers authority to make payments to anybody who appears likely to promote the development or understanding of cultural or scientific matters.

Grant Overview:

On 26thth July 2020, the Scottish Government announced a package of support to help the events sector in Scotland recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The ‘Events Industry Support Fund’ of £8.1 million has been allocated to support Scottish businesses in the events industry, and particularly those in the supply chain, that are facing hardship. It is intended to help keep them in business while restrictions on events are still in place, so that they are able to support the delivery of events in Scotland when restrictions are lifted. Additional funding of £7.5 million was announced on 28 January, 2021 as part of the ‘Event Industry Support Fund 2’, to help the sector deal with the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

Event Industry Support Fund 1 and 2 are designed to specifically support businesses which have not received Scottish Government sponsored COVID-19 related funding from other funding schemes. The funds are intended to support suppliers working to organise, stage and deliver in Scotland (i) business / MICE events (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions); and/or (ii) cultural and sporting events and festivals which are open to the public. They support businesses whose primary source of earnings is derived from the organisation, staging and delivery of or to events in Scotland.

This funding will support otherwise strong and viable businesses and freelancers from insolvency, protecting the business base, jobs and livelihoods helping prepare for a stronger economic recovery.

Further details are available in the scheme guidance for applicants: COVID-19 Support Fund for Scottish Events Industry |

Executive Summary:

Strategic Context

Events make a key contribution to Scotland’s economy, boost Scotland’s profile internationally and can enhance community engagement, empowerment and inclusion. Major events can act as a catalyst for investment in infrastructure and built environment. They can increase tourism in the long term due to strengthened brand and improved infrastructure.

The Scottish Government recognises the massive impact that COVID-19 restrictions are having on the events sector in Scotland, which was worth £6 billion annually to Scotland’s economy. Some activity has moved to broadcast only or online, however, thus far online activity has proved difficult to monetise. There is also a long lead in time to plan and prepare for most events. As such, parts of the sector have indicated that even if they are permitted to resume, as would be possible for some at levels 1 and 0, they will not be commercially viable while physical distancing and low attendance caps are in place.

Re-opening the sector will be important to the recovery of Scotland’s economy. It will be of benefit to the event businesses directly, and those employed within them, but also allows for the potential of wider benefits from customer expenditure to begin to be restored. Furthermore, it has had a wider positive impact on socialisation and general wellbeing.

In order to address the needs of many sectors adversely impacted by the pandemic, a range of business support funds were introduced over several months to provide emergency funding to help secure jobs, safeguard businesses and to alleviate hardship.

Within this context of needing to react quickly, there was limited opportunity to gather evidence on the possible impacts of these funds. Therefore this document draws upon the Equality and Fairer Scotland Impact Assessment[435] undertaken for Events Sector Guidance, which underpins the return of events, supporting consideration of the impact of events on people with protected characteristics.

Equalities Impacts

Overall we expect that individuals who have protected characteristics who work as part of the supply chain or attend events will benefit directly through appropriate risk assessment and implementation of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at events which will allow them to resume safely.

We think that this is likely to have most differential impact on people with protected characteristics relating to age, race, disability and gender. This is discussed in more detail in the Key Findings section below.

Actions Taken to Ensure Equality

To develop these Funds, the Scottish Government has undertaken the following consultation and analysis:

  • Aligned the Event Sector Guidance, which was developed following consultation with a range of organisations representing people with one or more of the protected characteristics –
  • Engaged with the Event Industry Advisory Group
  • Sourced feedback from applicants and undertaken two online surveys of the event industry supply chain (conducted by VisitScotland’s Events Directorate).

As a result of this activity, Event Industry Support Fund 2 has been broadened out to ensure it reaches those event businesses that Event Industry Support Fund 1 did not reach and who may not have been able to access any other funding up to this point.

Our consultation and analysis also helped us shape guidance in a way which recognises the importance of assessing new and revised policies against the needs of the general equality duty as set out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not, and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. The Scottish Government also considered whether the measures could constitute direct and/or indirect discrimination.

Key Findings - impact assessment of benefits and/or disadvantages.

Given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic we are aware that there are gaps in knowledge and in the evidence base. We are developing data, research and understanding of lived experience as we move forward. The headline data, engagement and information gathered to underpin the Event Sector Guidance EQIA, and which is also relevant here includes:

Age: Older People and Children and Young People

Approximately 51% of the events workforce is under the age of 35 compared to around 35% for Scotland’s workforce as a whole. A disproportionately young workforce could result in a heightened risk and impact (in terms of lost lifetime earnings) of unemployment in the industry. Annual Population Survey 2019.

The Scottish Household Survey[436] figures shows levels of cultural attendance, in 2018, were generally higher among the younger age groups, although there were differences in the types of cultural activities / events attended by younger and older age groups.

Therefore providing support to support event businesses could disproportionately positively impact on young people.

Sex: Men and Women

The proportion of women working in the events industry is similar to the proportion in the overall workforce- 47% and 49% respectively. However, for Events Catering Activities, women make up 56% of the workforce and for Other Reservation Service and Related Activities they make up 73% of the workforce. Research has highlighted a disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on women. Women are more likely to have reduced hours, been made redundant, and been furloughed. Women working from home have had additional responsibilities (childcare and work). Not all women have been affected equally – young and minority ethnic more affected and pregnant women are also significantly impacted. Mothers are 23% more likely than fathers to have lost their jobs (temporarily or permanently) during the current crisis. Of those who were in paid work prior to the lockdown, mothers are 47% more likely than fathers to have permanently lost their job or quit, and they are 14% more likely to have been furloughed.

Therefore supporting event sector businesses during COVID-19 restrictions can be expected to increase the opportunity for it to support female employment upon reopening.


With events, and in particular casual labour, Eastern European, African and others have been identified as potentially at risk groups. In terms of participation and attendance, access is in danger of being restricted by COVID due to financial implications and lack of additional resources hitting ethnic minority families hard. According to the Ethnic Minority National Resilience Network (Scotland) which is coordinated by BEMIS Scotland, minority ethnic communities have disproportionate vulnerabilities to COVID19 exposure. This is represented in both social and health outcomes.

For example, due to the immigration status of some minority ethnic individuals it is financially harder to self-isolate because their precarious employment circumstances mean they will not receive furlough pay or state benefits. This means they are more likely to work in low paid and non-unionised work environments where PPE and social distancing regulations are not being appropriately adhered too.

Individual health circumstances and protected characteristics should be considered and discussed with the workforce before prioritising who is asked to return to work and when.


The top concerns that disabled people have about visiting places as lockdown restrictions lift are: People not respecting and honouring social distancing; not having access to venues’ or public toilets when outside; and having to queue or wait outside venues, especially when weather is bad.[437]

Individual health circumstances and protected characteristics should be considered and discussed with the workforce before prioritising who is asked to return to work and when.

Religion and Belief

There is no evidence of a differential impact identified at this time

Sexual Orientation

There is no evidence of a differential impact identified at this time

Pregnancy and maternity

Events sector guidance sets out that individual health circumstances and protected characteristics should be considered and discussed with the workforce before prioritising who is asked to return to work and when.

Gender reassignment

There is no evidence of a differential impact identified at this time

Marriage or Civil Partnership

There is no evidence of a differential impact identified at this time

Socio-economic disadvantage: any people experiencing poverty

Poverty has higher prevalence across protected characteristics. For example, risk of poverty is much higher for women, disabled people, minority ethnic people, lone parents, and children and young people. We know that work does not fully protect against poverty, with 60% of adults in poverty being in work- Poverty and income inequality statistics. Around 78% of workers in the events sector earn at or above the Living Wage compared with 83% of all Scottish employees.[438] Recognising it was one of the first to lock down and last to restart, we remain committed to the recovery of the events sector, and to the underpinning public health measures which are supporting public confidence to return to the full range of business, sporting, and cultural events.

Stakeholder Engagement:

We have engaged extensively with businesses and their representative organisations during the pandemic. In the year to March 2021 the Scottish Government had more than 1,270 ministerial engagements with business, including virtual conferences, roundtables and calls.

In developing these funds and Event Sector Guidance we spoke to stakeholders, including the Event Industry Advisory Group and drew upon feedback from applicants and two online surveys of the event industry supply chain conducted by VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

This provided an opportunity to listen to stakeholder views, test ideas, share information about progress and discuss and address specific issues identified by sectors and individual businesses.

Mitigations -

This funding support is designed to sustain the industry and protect jobs therefore mitigations will be principally focused on ensuring the application process is accessible through administration by VisitScotland.

To help to ensure accessibility VisitScotland ensured that there were multiple channels of communication and submission for the applicant if they has accessibility issues (online and by telephone). VisitScotland published the SERF guidance a week earlier than going live with the application form as this allowed any issues to be reported early and for people who needed longer to prepare, for example due to disability, to do so.

Dedicated email contact points were set up and VisitScotland reception redirected any calls to appropriate staff. VisitScotland publicised that a word document of the form was available if required for accessibility reasons and, where required, and we accepted postal applications. All these measures were intended to boost inclusion and ensure that people with a range of protected characteristics could access the funding support.

Next Steps (if any)

The findings of this EQIA will help to aid the design and introduction of possible future schemes, should resources become available.

Declaration and Publication

I have read the Equality Impact Assessment and I am satisfied that it represents a fair and reasonable view of the expected equality impact of the measures implemented.

Signed: Rachael McKechnie

Date: 11 February 2022



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