[updated 26 October 2020]

The UK government has responded to a joint statement sent by the Graphics and Print Media Alliance (GPMA) calling for a means-tested disaster relief grant fund for the UK print industry as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The GPMA, a body of trade associations supporting commercial print, addressed the statement to the chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, Alok Sharma. Back unanimously by all 15 members of the GPMA, the statement warned the UK government that more than 3,000 businesses will go into insolvency by Christmas if the print sector does not receive a specific support package, with a further 3,000 under threat in the next six months.

The UK government’s official response to the joint statement acknowledged that the UK print industry remains a key concern for the government, and that the data and proposals provided to it by the GPMA and its members was being factored into its policy response to the pandemic.

Key excerpts from the UK government’s official response include the following:

The government fully recognises the importance of the graphics and print media sector to the UK economy, and to the consumers who rely on printed materials for information and communication. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is grateful to the sector for your continued engagement with officials throughout this crisis, which we will continue going forwards.

As you are aware, recent events in the UK and worldwide have demonstrated that coronavirus continues to pose a very real threat to people’s health and livelihoods. The government is therefore focused on measures to combat the virus in the places where it is most prevalent, whilst also doing everything possible to keep our economy moving forwards with people working in a Covid-19 secure way.

We would like to further assure you that your proposal that a mean-tested ‘disaster relief’ style grant should be made available to the printing industry has been noted, and will be borne in mind as the policy response to the pandemic evolves.”

The GPMA said the UK government’s official response was “both constructive and positive”. GPMA members Graeme Smith, chairman of the IPIA, CEO of the BPIF, Charles Jarrold, CEO of PICON, Bettine Pellant and Brendan Perring, chairman of the BAPC, commented: “The response from government is heartening to say the least.

“They clearly recognise the specific challenges the UK print industry faces, have asserted that they will be borne in mind as policy is now developed, and have requested that we continue to work closely with them.

“What we now need is a continuation of concerted effort from across our industry, which has so far seen hundreds of business owners write directly to their MPs and to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to make them aware of their individual circumstances and the help that would be required to support them moving forward.

“We will continue our collective efforts to work with the government in securing a sustainable solution.”

Read the GPMA’s joint statement in full at imagesmag.uk/GPMA-Joint-Statement