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UK Music calls for bringing forward of rates review

Chancellor Philip Hammond needs to "press the fast-forward button" on an "urgent review" of business rates to safeguard the UK music sector, says CEO Michael Dugher

By IQ on 14 Mar 2018

Michael Dugher, UK Music

image © UK Music

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher has urged the chancellor of the exchequer to bring forward his planned review of business rates, saying many UK venues and recording studios are still “reeling” from last year’s rates increase and may not survive until 2021.

Delivering his spring statement yesterday, chancellor Philip Hammond announced that a planned revaluation of business rates – the tax levied on non-residential property in the UK – would be brought forward a year, to 2021. The change would be followed by revaluations every three years, with the next taking place in 2024.

Dugher (pictured) wrote to Hammond last November to ask for an urgent review of his plans to raise business rates by 4%, which the industry umbrella group says will disproportionately affect the music business and could leave many venues “fighting to survive”.

Responding to yesterday’s spring statement, Dugher welcomed plans bring forward the revaluation by one year, but says the move falls well short of a review “urgently needed to help thousands of businesses in the UK music industry”.

“Venues and studios need help now and can’t afford to wait until 2021”

“Many music venues and studios are still reeling from the huge hikes in business rates following last year’s revaluation,” he says. “Venues and studios need help now and can’t afford to wait until 2021.

“We need an urgent review of the disproportionate rates many venues and studios face if we are to maintain our vibrant and diverse music scene. The chancellor needs to press the fast-forward button and make that happen.

“It is plainly unfair, for example, that one small venue – the Lexington [200-cap.] in north London – has to endure a rise of 118% in its rateable value yet Arsenal FC’s 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium nearby enjoyed a 7% cut in its rateable value.”

“We are in great danger of losing the bedrock that has enabled the UK to be one of the world’s great sources of forward-thinking music”

George Akins, owner of DHP Family, came out in support of Dugher’s call for an urgent review, commenting: “We welcome the fact that the government is looking more urgently at business rates for music venues. This is certainly an issue for many venues across the country but it is far from being the only issue. Rent increases, unhelpful bureaucracy and redevelopments are all hitting small venues especially in the capital.

“Fundamentally small venues showcasing grass roots, contemporary music should be seen as cultural venues – in the same way as concert halls and arts theatres – which are eligible for subsidies. We are in great danger of losing the bedrock that has enabled the UK to be one of the world’s great sources of forward-thinking music.”

Separately, Dugher welcomed a separate initiative by the chancellor to provide £80 million for small and medium businesses to recruit apprentices.


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