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MPs, UK industry make fresh call for govt-backed insurance

The parliamentary DCMS Committee and 40 industry associations are asking chancellor Rishi Sunak to save the festival summer

By IQ on 07 Jan 2021

Wireless Festival 2019

MPs are warning of a summer without festivals

image © Wireless Festival 2019

The British parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee has written to the chancellor of the exchequer to ask for a government-backed insurance scheme for concerts and festivals, or risk “a summer without festivals”.

In the letter to Rishi Sunak, the cross-party group of members of parliament warn that festival organisers and investors are unable to risk the repeating losses they sustained in 2020 unless events can be insured against cancellation. According to the committee, the commercial insurance market is not expected to offer Covid-19 cancellation cover until at least 2022.

To save the festival summer, the MPs, backed by 40 industry associations including industry umbrella groups LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) and UK Music, are urging government to extend existing underwriting schemes, such as the £500 million fund set up for the film and television sector, to “other creative industries”, including live music, to give festival operators the ability to get on with organising their events.

Julian Knight MP, chair of the DCMS Committee, comments: “The government is telling us that life should be getting back to normal by the summer, but unless it can provide a safety net it will be a summer without festivals. The industry says that without government-backed insurance, many festivals and live music events just won’t happen because organisers can’t risk getting their fingers burnt for a second year.

“The committee has heard from festival organisers that this is a matter of urgency. Insurance must be the first step in unlocking the huge contribution that festivals make to our economy, protecting not only the supply chains but the musicians who rely on them for work.

“Without a government-backed insurance scheme it will be impossible to get festivals back this summer”

“The government already offers a level of cover to the film and television industries; now is the time to extend support to other creative industries or risk losing some of our best loved and world-renowned festivals.”

Tim Thornhill, director of entertainment and port at Tysers Insurance Brokers, is similarly supportive. He says: “It has been estimated that over 40% of the insurer losses at Lloyd’s of London relating to coronavirus were as a result of event cancellation claims, which far outweighs the proportion of premium.

“Now is the time for the Treasury and other departments to proactively engage with insurance brokers and the live sector itself to come up with a solution.”

“We wholeheartedly support the DCMS Committee’s letter to the prime minster and chancellor calling on them to support UK festivals before it is too late,” says Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE. “Our festivals are the envy of the world, contributing £1.76 billion to the economy and supporting 85,000 jobs every year.

“Without a government-backed insurance scheme it will be impossible to get festivals back this summer, as the months of planning and preparation it takes to create these culturally significant events means that decisions need be made now. We are grateful for the DCMS Committee for understanding the urgency of this issue, for listening to the sector and supporting our calls for further support.

Government-backed insurance funds for events are already in place in Austria and Germany, with the Netherlands also considering whether to adopt a similar scheme.


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