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UK Music Warns Budget Boost Leaves “Clock Ticking” To Save Summer Festivals

UK Music has welcomed the Chancellor's Budget boost for the self-employed - but warned the 'clock is ticking' to save summer festivals and gigs.

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03.03.2021: UK Music has welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s expansion of support for the self-employed in his Budget, but warned time is running out to save summer festivals and gigs.

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said the music industry urgently needed a Government-backed insurance scheme to allow festival and concert organisers to proceed without the risk of the further Covid-enforced cancellations.

His call comes after nine out of ten festival organisers said they could not proceed with their events without a viable insurance scheme. Glastonbury and Download are among the major festivals that have already pulled the plug on this summer.

In his Budget, the Chancellor announced plans to:

  • Extend the furlough scheme (Job Retention Scheme) until September
  • Extend Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to 600,000 new starters
  • Extend business rates relief to the end of June followed by 66% rate until next April
  • Maintain the reduced 5% VAT rate on hospitality and tourism until September
  • Extend apprenticeship hiring incentive and increase payment to £3,000.
  • Deliver a £150 million Community Ownership Fund

He also heeded a call from UK Music – outlined in our pre-Budget blueprint for the Chancellor – to extend the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund with a £300 million boost.

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said:

“We’re glad the Chancellor has listened to our calls to further extend the economic support schemes.

“The expanded support for freelancers and the self-employed is a step in the right direction in an industry where three-quarters of the 200,000 workforce are self -employed. However, there are still many in our industry who fall in the gaps of the financial support schemes and need help.

“The £300 million boost to the Culture Recovery Fund is welcome and will be a lifeline to many venues and organisations – but the fund should be extended to include freelancers, as is the case in Scotland and Wales.

“We are grateful for the economic support we have received from Government, but we don’t want to draw on that support any longer than we have to. The best way to achieve this is to ensure activity starts to happen again as soon as possible and musicians can get back into work.

“However, the clock is ticking when it comes to staging live music events this summer. Organisers are making decisions in the next few days and weeks about whether they can proceed or will be forced to cancel.

“The live music industry urgently needs a Government-backed insurance scheme to protect against the risk of losses if a festival or concert is forced to cancel due to Covid.

“We want to create an unforgettable Summer of Sound and showcase the best of British music as we emerge from the impact of the pandemic. The music industry wants to play a leading role in driving the post-pandemic economic and cultural recovery.

“To make sure we can move ahead with live events, festival and concert organisers need the confidence that there is the safety-net of an insurance scheme that is already enjoyed by the film and TV industries.”

According to survey carried out by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), nine out of ten organisers (92.5% of respondents) said they could not stage events without insurance and described insurance measures as vital not optional.

Analysis by the AIF found that, for a festival taking place in early July, an estimated 40% of total costs will need to be paid before June 14th – the date when Government will make a decision on Step 4 of its roadmap about removing all rules on social distancing.

The expected total cost of staging a festival ranges from £130,000 to £12.4m, with an average cost of over £6m, according to the AIF. Costs include artists, production and infrastructure deposits as well as security, medical cover and licensing.

The music industry is working to three dates from the Government: April 12 for the start of pilot events; May 17 for indoor and outdoor events – with capacity limits and social distancing; and June 21 for large gigs and concerts with no social distancing.

The UK music industry contributed £5.8 billion to the UK economy pre-Covid and supports 200,000 people – three-quarters of whom are self-employed. UK music exports generate £2.9 billion a year.

An outline of the key Budget measures can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/budget-2021-what-you-need-to-know

What our UK Music members said: 

Musicians’ Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge said: 

“We welcome the extension to the furloughing scheme and the SEISS, and we are pleased to see that the chancellor has listened to our call for financial help for the newly self-employed. However, there are still a good number of self-employed musicians who do not qualify for the SEISS, and we urge the chancellor to ensure that the new money pumped into the Cultural Recovery Fund is open to applications from the self-employed sector. This would at least go some way to plugging the remaining gaps in the SEISS. In addition, we are also hopeful that the Government will agree to help our world-renowned live sector in securing the necessary insurances needed to enable gigs and concerts to take place in the summer.”

Music Mangers Forum Chief Executive Annabella Coldrick said: 

“The MMF welcomes the extension of eligibility for support to the self-employed. This is an important measure that should have an impact on our community, many of whom faced real hardship during the pandemic, although unfortunately directors of limited companies are still excluded. We also welcome the £300m Cultural Recovery Fund for reopening and the extended VAT reduction on ticket sales, however it was disappointing not to hear any developments on Government-backed insurance for live music events which is urgently needed to get us back up and running in July. For a full longer-term music recovery, to a place where artists can perform to full capacity crowds and tour internationally, we will need this kind of targeted and continued support reaching into 2022.”

AIM Chief Executive Paul Pacifico said:

“Independent music businesses will be relieved and better able to plan their way out of lockdown with the government’s extension of the furlough scheme and top-up for the Culture Recovery Fund. These will be an essential part of keeping these viable and valuable businesses going as we reach the light at the end of the Covid tunnel. The further support measures, aligned with the government’s roadmap to recovery, suggest a tangible return for live music events, with the extended ticket VAT reduction a great help in getting the music show back on the road.

“We are also hopeful that a review of the R&D tax credit will finally include the cutting-edge work done by innovative music businesses in developing talent and techniques. However, some gaps still need focus, such as support for self-employed new parents, particularly mothers. We must also continue to push for the introduction of a government-backed insurance support scheme to give our world-leading festivals and large-scale events the ability to do the planning work required now to deliver shows this summer.”

Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies said:

“The good news from today’s Budget is that grants for self-employed people have been extended to include those with 2019-2020 tax returns and the Cultural Recovery Fund has been given a £300m boost.

“But without a Government backed insurance scheme events and festivals over the summer are in danger. For our wellbeing, to create jobs and support the economy – we need this.”

BPI CEO Geoff Taylor said:

“The BPI welcomes the recognition of the importance of the creative industries, including music, in today’s Budget. The music industry has been hit hard by COVID, and the extension of the Cultural Recovery Fund, continued VAT relief and renewed business and self-employment support are welcome – as are the changes to creative industries apprenticeship warmly received and will help our own BRITs Apprentice Scheme. It’s vital that venues, musicians, and those working in the wider industry are supported until reopening is possible, as well as ensuring music can play its part in driving economic growth and providing jobs across the UK. As we absorb the detail of today’s announcement, there are some areas still unaddressed, such as insurance scheme to support the live sector, but a number of welcome steps to support music in the announcements set out today.”

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