The office Christmas party is cancelled

Recession forces companies to scale back festive celebrations

Two years ago they would have been dancing until dawn, having sunk a three-course dinner and magnums of vintage champagne. Now workers in Britain's formerly booming banks are having to dip into their own pockets to fund their Christmas parties.

Across Britain, firms are cancelling or scaling back the end-of-year festivities, but the cutbacks are greatest at financial institutions. High Street and investment banks contacted by The Independent said they would either hold no or modest celebrations as a result of harsher trading and the risk of a public backlash.

Northern Rock, the publicly owned bank, has cancelled its Christmas party, while Lloyds, which was also rescued by the taxpayer and has recently cut 5,000 jobs, claimed it would be taking a "prudent approach".

The Royal Bank of Scotland, another public bailout, is spending only £10 a head, having slashed its entertainment budget by 90 per cent. "All our events are modest and appropriate. We are mindful of the way we do our business, and that includes cutting back our hospitality," a spokesman said.

The US investment bank Morgan Stanley is not holding a party. The consultancy firm KPMG, which previously laid on lavish black-tie dinners with free alcohol, has trimmed its budget. Spokesman Mark Hamilton said: "Rather than a dinner in a hotel, it will be smaller teams going out for lunch."

Even Goldman Sachs is not funding any Christmas parties this year, despite making plenty of money, although its employees – who earn an average of £313,000 – are still likely to be popping champagne corks.

"Last year and this year things have been more modest," said a source at the investment bank. "Now it's at each member's personal expense. I think in the current circumstances it would be inappropriate [to hold lavish parties]. We are taking flak."

The lack of the festivities is not confined to the finance industry. In its annual Christmas party survey, to be released next month, the Chartered Management Institute found that only 42 per cent of firms said they were funding parties this year, compared with 72 per cent in 2006. Honda, which in the golden days paid £100,000 for a three-course meal and drinks in a marquee, is not holding a party after 1,300 people took voluntary redundancy at its Swindon plant.

"They used to have a lovely time," reminisced spokesman Paul Ormond. "It's a great opportunity to let off steam and mix with colleagues. But ... we are in difficult times." Other companies, such as the house-builder Bovis Homes, are planning more modest events.

PricewaterhouseCoopers' hospitality director, Stephen Broome, said this year's cutbacks were more extensive because of the length of the recession. He explained: "This time last year many corporate Christmas lunches had already been booked, deposits taken, and to cancel would have meant letting staff down. However, faced with the economic realities, bosses have now had nine months to prepare staff for more restrained celebrations."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor