UK Music Urges Government To Set Up New Taskforce To Combat Coronavirus Impact

11/05/2020: UK Music has called on the Government to set up a new taskforce to revive the music industry as it battles the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the Government’s proposals, UK Music chair Tom Watson welcomed the moves towards reopening businesses - provided public health remained the top priority.

However, he warned the plans outlined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson added to uncertainty in the music industry about when different sectors would emerge from the lockdown.

Mr Watson also highlighted how quarantine restrictions on passengers coming to the UK by air could have a drastic impact on overseas tours and the ability of British musicians and creators to travel.

UK Music’s call for a taskforce responds to commitments set out in Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy concerning Government plans to work with stakeholders who will be unable to resume activity until Step Three of its road map.

Last week, UK Music revealed the contribution of live music alone to the UK economy is set to drop in 2020 from an estimated £1.1 billion to just £200 million- a reduction of £900 million, in a “catastrophic” blow to the industry.

With July earmarked as the first possible point at which the hospitality sector could return, live music events are effectively ruled out for the summer - a period which is vital to their turnover and ability to survive.

Overall, the UK music business sustains more than 190,000 jobs and contributed a total of £5.2 billion a year to the UK economy before Covid-19 struck.

The virus has dealt a devastating blow to the industry in which around 72% of workers are self-employed, including many who fall in the gaps of Government support schemes.

UK Music chair Tom Watson said:

“The Government is right to try to move towards kickstarting our economy, provided it can ensure protecting public health is paramount at all times.

“However, these latest proposals on the easing of the coronavirus lockdown are missing the clarity that the UK music industry so desperately needs.

“There is a risk the British music industry will be left behind as other countries come out of lockdown. We cannot afford that to happen to the UK’s world-leading music industry which is really suffering.

“We would urge the Government to establish a formal taskforce with the music industry to ensure our businesses and events are COVID-19 secure - so our members can try to plan for the months ahead.

“It is vital that while we all work towards getting the live industry under way again and record stores reopened, that all the Government support packages are not cut back until we get back on our feet.”

UK Music has outlined a number of concerns where it believes the Government and the new taskforce could work with the industry to get the music business back on its feet:

The Government should provide a proposed date when the industry could consider reviving organised concerts, gigs and festivals. In Germany and Ireland, organisers have been told large events will not return until at least the end of August. It is vital for promoters, musicians and music fans to have more visibility about the future so they can plan ahead.

Maintaining in full the range of Government support packages such as the furlough scheme, support for the self-employed, business loans and other measures will be crucial while large parts of the industry cannot work.

The Government should work with the entertainment retail sector to establish clear protocols and guidance to ensure record stores and instrument shops can be in the first wave of shops in June to return.

The Government needs to continue to work with music industry to identify strategies for stimulating new creativity during the lockdown and ensure those able to work outside of home can do so safely.

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