UK live music industry say workers are being “ignored” by Rishi Sunak’s new job support scheme

"The chancellor’s most recent announcement gives no comfort to the skilled and talented workforce who face a desperate and bitter winter"

Leading figures from the UK’s live music industry have said they have found little comfort in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s new job support scheme, claiming that their sector feels “ignored” by both the plans and the government.

Announced last Friday (October 9) and set to launch on November 1, the scheme will benefit employees who work for UK firms that are forced to shut by law due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Those eligible for the scheme, which is replacing the previous furloughing system, will be able to receive two-thirds of their wage from the government.

The response to the scheme from the live music industry has not been positive, however. A host of leading figures have said that those who work in the sector, including many artists, live venue workers and touring crews, have been “overlooked” by Sunak’s plans as the vast majority of the industry remains out of operation due to coronavirus restrictions.

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“By focussing his [Sunak] criteria so narrowly on buildings which are allowed to open, the new scheme risks overlooking businesses who can technically open their doors but cannot trade economically due to the restrictions on gatherings in clubs, concert halls and arenas,” Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters Association, said in response to the scheme.

“Revenue in the live music industry will be down a catastrophic 80 per cent in 2019 and over 70 per cent of the employees in the industry are currently utilising the furlough scheme. If the government fails to ensure that all sectors that can’t work can access the new scheme, there will be tens of thousands of additional job losses coming before the end of the year.”

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Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, outside 11 Downing Street (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Production Services Association GM Andy Lenthall stated that “once again, the technicians and technical suppliers to live events have been ignored. Thousands of individuals and businesses that rely on live events, still unable to work due to government restrictions and suffering catastrophic drops in revenues as a result will receive no support from the chancellor’s recent adjustments in support.

“All the pain, none of the gain.”

Greg Parmley, chair of the UK Live Music Group, said that “the UK’s live music business remains one of the most viable industries in the UK, but is still unable to operate. Our entire workforce remains in jeopardy while venues, events and festivals are forced to remain shuttered.

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“The chancellor’s most recent announcement gives no comfort to the skilled and talented workforce who face a desperate and bitter winter.”

Earlier today (October 12), Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis shared a link to an UnHerd article about the devastating impact that the pandemic has had on the live music industry this year.

The piece explores the “pandemic-infused meltdown” within the industry — it cites one live music manager who says they lost £27 million-worth of bookings overnight when the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March — and previews the forthcoming report from the Live Music Group, which will reveal this week that “the live business is shrinking four times faster than the rest of the economy”.

“It predicts the majority of jobs may be gone by the end of this year without more help,” the UnHerd report adds.

There was some good news for the live music sector in England earlier today as the government announced the names of the 1,385 venues, theatres, museums and cultural organisations which will benefit from a £257 million grant that has been taken from the £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Liverpool’s Cavern Club and The Brudenell in Leeds are among the venues that are set to financially benefit from the grant.

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