UK’s live music industry calls for more action as autumn budget announced

"Today has offered little help to secure the future of our £4.5billion industry"

Figures from the UK’s live music industry have called for more action from the government following the autumn 2022 budget.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt today (November 17) announced a series of tax rises and spending cuts as part of the autumn statement in what he described as “a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis and rebuild our economy”.

However, the live music sector is calling for more support in an industry that is being pushed “to the brink”.

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“While we welcome the Government’s desire to bring stability to the UK economy, today has offered little help to secure the future of our £4.5billion industry and the 200,000 people it employs,” Jon Collins, CEO of LIVE said.

“Unprecedented operating conditions are pushing our sector to the brink, as much-loved venues close their doors, tours are cancelled and artists drop out of the industry.”

He added that the “pandemic hangover” combined with the increasing cost of living has led to 54 per cent of people stating that they are “less disposed to attending live entertainment”, which is “putting incredible pressure on the live music sector” as a result.

“Today, we renew our call for a reintroduction of a lower VAT rate on ticket sales to inject cash into the bottom line of struggling businesses, bring us in line with many other European countries, and secure the future of live music for all,” Collins added.

The Music Venue Trust, meanwhile, has emphasised the need for a Live Music Commission in the UK.

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Founder and CEO Mark Davyd said that while the organisation “welcomes” the government’s announcement that the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief on Business Rates, which includes the majority of UK Grassroots Music Venues, will be extended from 50 per cent to 75 per cent from April 1, 2023, there needs to be greater clarify from the Treasury about the support being offered to venues with values in excess of £110,000.

“In January 2020, prior to the pandemic, the government committed to a full review of Business Rates on Grassroots Music Venues. We strongly urge the Chancellor and Prime Minister to bring forward that review at the earliest opportunity,” Davyd said.

“The UK has the highest level of premises taxes on Grassroots Music Venues in Europe. This must change for our live music industry to remain competitive.”

He also raised the issue of high VAT rates on ticketing and the need for R&D investment into culture by Grassroots Music Venues by matching the tax incentives in order to “continue to produce world beating artists of the future”.

The organisation continued that while some measures to provide stability around business rates were “welcomed”, the “multiple opportunities to stabilise and grow the live music sector are being consistently missed, budget after budget, statement after statement”.

“In light of these missed opportunities, Music Venue Trust calls for the government to set up a Live Music Commission,” Davyd continued.

“This body can be charged with considering the significant opportunities to stabilise and grow the live music sector, with the aim of informing future government policy so that these opportunities are not consistently missed.”

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