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UK Music calls for review of “damaging” business rates

Michael Dugher has asked chancellor Philip Hammond to scrap his planned 4% rates increase, warning the rise could prove "catastrophic" for already under-pressure venues

By IQ on 16 Nov 2017

Philip Hammond

image © Suzanne Plunkett

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher has written to the chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond, to ask for an urgent review of his plans to raise business rates, which the industry group says will disproportionately affect the music business and could leave many venues “fighting to survive”.

In the letter, Dugher warns that the planned 4% rise in business rates – the tax levied on non-residential property in the UK – coupled with the ‘revaluation’ announced in February, which has sent the rateable value of many music venues and recording studios to “catastrophic” and “woefully unjust” levels, risks harming Britain’s music business, “the jewel in the UK’s cultural crown”.

As evidence, Dugher attaches to the letter a table showing how the business rates revaluation, introduced in April, has sent taxes paid by both large and small venues skyrocketing: The O2, for instance, has seen its ‘rateable value’, which is used to calculate rates, increase 141%, while Manchester Arena’s has grown 80% and Leeds’ First Direct Arena 84%.

On the other end of the scale, the 200-capacity Lexington in London has seen an increase in 118%, with London’s 350-cap. Jazz Café (+73%) and 350-cap. 100 Club (+52%) and Norwich’s 260-cap. Arts Centre (+40%) hit similarly hard.

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

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

“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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