11.03.2020: UK Music Acting CEO Tom Kiehl has welcomed a Budget lifeline for grassroots music venues with a Government pledge to scrap business rates for the next year.
The venues will share in a £1 billion plan to slash business rates as part of a scheme to mitigate the impact of coronavirus.
The Government had previously promised to include music venues with a rateable value below £51,000 in its retail discount scheme to allow them to benefit from a 50% discount.
However, the change announced in the Budget by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP ups the discount to 100% and will run from April 2020 for a year.
The move follows a concerted campaign by UK Music and organisations like the Music Venue Trust to pressurise the Government to help struggling music venues hit with huge hikes in their business rate bills.
The Chancellor also committed to a number of measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak including:
• More resources for the NHS.
• Statutory sick pay available for all those who are advised to self-isolate, even if they do not have symptoms.
• Quicker and easier access to benefits for the self-employed.
• £500m hardship fund distributed to Local Authorities to support vulnerable people.
• For businesses with fewer than 250 employees the cost of statutory sick pay to be refunded by government for up to 14 days.
• HMRC to scale up “Time to Pay” service and dedicated helpline with 2,000 staff.
• A new temporary business interruption loan scheme to support small and medium sized businesses.
In a separate move, the Chancellor announced plans to provide an average of £25,000 per year for schools to invest in arts activities via a £90m annual “Arts Premium” fund, starting in September 2021.
Commenting on the Budget, Acting UK Music CEO Tom Kiehl said:
“The Chancellor is to be hugely congratulated for taking the important step of scrapping business rates for grassroots music venues for a year.
“Music venues are the lifeblood of our industry. They help nurture the talent on which the whole music industry relies. However, many are fighting for survival and need all the help they can get to remain open.
“The coronavirus outbreak presents a new challenge for the live music industry and this welcome step will be a lifeline for some businesses at this critical time.
“We ask the Government to constantly review financial support available to music businesses and employees in response to coronavirus and consider making further changes.
“VAT holidays, extending statutory sick pay to the self-employed and the wider extension of business rate relief to other parts of the sector would go a long way to helping the music industry get through this difficult period.”