UK Music calls on Chancellor for Budget review of business rates

16/11/17: UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher is demanding the Chancellor orders an urgent review in the Budget of business rates to protect thousands of music venues.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is already under intense pressure to drop a planned 4% rise in business rates next year when he unveils his Budget next week (November 22).

Mr Dugher warned the rises – coupled with the impact of the Government’s business rates revaluation earlier this year – could leave music venues fighting to survive.

One small venue, the Lexington in north London, has seen a staggering rise of 118% in its rateable value this year.  Meanwhile, Arsenal’s  60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium nearby enjoyed a 7% cut in its rateable value.

New research from UK Music – the umbrella body for the music industry - reveals that recording studios have also faced substantial increases in 2017.

The rateable value of the world-famous Abbey Road Studios - where the Beatles and Pink Floyd and Oasis recorded a string of hits – increased by 32% in 2017.

AIR Studios, where the soundtrack to Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express was recently recorded, has also experienced a rise of 32%.

In the past decade, around 35% of music venues have closed, according to the Music Venue Trust charity.

Mr Dugher warned the tide of closures could continue due to soaring rate and rent bills faced by venues, many of which are already battling against the threat posed by developers and council licensing chiefs.

He said the Government’s recent business rates revaluation has sent the rateable value of many music venues and studios rocketing to  “catastrophic” and “woefully unjust” levels.

Mr Dugher called for an urgent review of the impact of the rates’ shake-up on the music business that contributed £4.4bn to the UK economy last year.

In a letter to the Chancellor (attached), Mr Dugher said the Valuation Office Agency should work with the music industry to agree an approved guide on business rating to help safeguard the future of music venues and recording studios.

Commenting, Mr Dugher said:

“The Chancellor must rethink these changes which are woefully unjust and could have a potentially catastrophic impact on some music venues and recording studios.

“The music industry contributes £4.4 billion to our economy, employs more than 142,000 people and generates exports of £2.5 billion.

“The Chancellor should use his Budget to make sure the venues and studios that gave artists like Adele, The Beatles and Oasis their big break are not put under threat because of soaring rate bills.

“Music is the jewel in the UK’s cultural crown.  But we need to protect music venues are vital if we are continue to nurture the stars of tomorrow.

“The Chancellor must think again and act before it is too late.”

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