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Covid-19: UK Music calls for Danish-style compensation fund

The fund is one of several measures proposed by the the industry umbrella group to mitigate the worst effects of the coronavirus crisis

By IQ on 13 Mar 2020

UK Music's acting CEO, Tom Kiehl


image © UK Music

Tom Kiehl, acting CEO of UK Music, has called on the British government to put in place a “framework of support” for the country’s music industry, including compensating businesses for loss of earnings, to combat the impact of coronavirus.

Warning the pandemic could deal a “hammer blow” to the UK music industry, in a letter sent today (13 March) to culture secretary Oliver Dowden he urges the government work with the sector to limit the damage from Covid-19 and warns that a wave of cancelled events could force some firms and events out of business.

Grassroots music venues are already suffering a 27% downturn in attendances, according to the latest figures from Music Venue Trust, while the Association of Independent Festivals reports that ticket sales for its members are down on average by 44% since the outbreak.

Unlike many countries in Europe, the UK has yet to cancel all large-scale gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus, though prime minister Boris Johnson said yesterday his government is considering a ban on major events, such as sporting fixtures – noting that while banning such events will have little effect on the spread, “there is the question of the added burden of such events can place on public services”.

In the letter to Dowden, Kiehl mapped out a seven-point plan to limit the damage to the music industry, which sustains over 190,000 jobs and contributes £5.2 billion a year to the economy.

“It is imperative that the government takes urgent steps to safeguard the music industry”

UK Music’s recommendations include:

  • Giving ‘holidays’ for VAT (value-added tax) payments to support music businesses
  • Further extending business rates relief
  • Helping the 72% of those in the music industry who are self employed
  • Instituting compensation schemes in the event of cancellations
  • Holding insurance companies “to account”

Amid fears of multi-million pound losses, Kiehl said the government should urgently consider launching a compensation fund for promoters and other businesses hit by the impact of the virus, similar to a scheme already in place in Denmark.

“The impact of the virus could deal a hammer blow to the British music industry and threaten the livelihoods of many people. It will hit not just those who are directly employed in our industry, but the wider supply chain, such as caterers and other retailers who depend on our sector for work,” comments Kiehl.

“While we warmly welcome measures outlined by the chancellor in the budget [on business rates] it is imperative that the government takes urgent steps to safeguard a music industry which is the envy of the world.

“It is also crucial that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and all government departments are in constant communication with our sector as we approach a critical business period for many of our members.”

 


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