The live music industry has called on the government to embrace a “golden opportunity” to boost the sector in next month’s budget.
The Spring Budget will be announced by chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Wednesday, March 15, 2023.
Ahead of the financial forecast, figures from the live music sector have called on prime minister Rishi Sunak to deliver on his personal promise to cut business rates and reinstate a lower rate of five per cent VAT on tickets – in line with international comparison.
Jon Collins, CEO of LIVE said: “The live music sector is a catalyst for economic activity right across the UK but many businesses are still reeling from the pandemic. Combined with rising costs, an uncompetitive tax system is holding back a sector-wide resurgence.
“The Government has a golden opportunity to turbo boost the industry by reintroducing the 5% rate of VAT on ticket sales in the upcoming Spring Budget. This change would help return live music to full strength, protect much loved grassroots venues and mean even more amazing festivals, concerts, and gigs in towns and cities across the country.”
Collins’s calls for change in the upcoming budget come after the Music Venue Trust recently spoke of a “very serious problem” in the music industry at a local level.
“Three weeks ago MVT stood in parliament and told MPs and the music industry that we have a very serious problem with Grassroots Music Venues and it was going to need decisive action,” Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd recently told NME.
“One Grassroots Music Venue is closing every week. If the government don’t act on Energy Bills before 1 April, that number will rise. If the music industry don’t act to start getting urgently needed financial support into these venues, that number will rise.
“These closures are completely preventable and it simply isn’t good enough on the part of the government or the industry to just let them happen. This can be stopped and it must be.”
Last month, grassroots music venues from across the UK spoke to NME about the “perfect storm” they face from the cost of living crisis, Brexit, cancelled shows and music fans’ last minute decisions on showing up.
“COVID’s not gone away, everyone’s feeling the pinch, there’s a cost of living crisis and people are generally more apathetic to going out,” Gareth Barber, venue owner and promoter, as well as a band manager, at Esquires in Bedford said. “Plus, the way the country is being run is depressing and everything going on outside of the country is depressing too.”
Dan Maiden, owner and promoter at The Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden for 25 years, told NME that “the government needs to get a grip on what’s actually happening” in the industry, particularly with the post-COVID problems it still faces.
Meanwhile, Benefits spoke NME earlier this month about supporting Independent Venue Week, including why these places should be seen as much more than “stepping stones” for rising bands.