UK Music: Spring Statement “missed opportunity”
UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher has called chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement a “missed opportunity” to help grassroots venues, but vows to continue campaigning.
Dugher, along with Labour’s shadow culture minister Kevin Brennan, met chancellor Hammond in February for urgent talks regarding business rates relief for grassroots music venues.
The music industry representatives urged Hammond to ensure live music venues benefit from the new business rates retail discount that applies to pubs, restaurants and other small businesses.
Senior politicians from across the main British political parties have shown support for the campaign to make grassroots venues eligible for business rates rebates, but action has yet to be taken.
The 2017 revaluation of business rates – the tax levied on non-residential property in the UK – resulted in a 31% increase in business rates payable by grassroots venues. A UK Live Music Census showed that 33% of small music venues reported that the increases had an ‘extreme, strong or moderate’ impact on their existence.
“The chancellor missed a great opportunity with his Spring Statement to give some much-needed help to hard-pressed grassroots music venues”
“The chancellor missed a great opportunity with his Spring Statement to give some much-needed help to hard-pressed grassroots music venues,” comments Dugher, who says it is “ludicrous” to classify pubs and clubs as “not similar” to music venues.
“Our chance of developing future talent is put in jeopardy if performers cannot find a place to play, nurture their talent and grow their audience. Supporting grassroots venues must be a key part of the government’s industrial strategy for music,” adds Dugher, urging the chancellor to rethink his policy.
UK Music welcomes the chancellor’s announcement that a £700 million package will be rolled out from next month to help small and medium-sized enterprises invest in apprenticeships
The umbrella organisation also welcomes new investment in cities and city regions, following UK Music’s work with city region mayors to support the night-time economy across the UK.
UK Music calls for bringing forward of rates review
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.
UK Music calls for review of “damaging” business rates
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.”
Hammond warned against neglecting creative sector
The UK’s Creative Industries Federation has reacted with cautious optimism to what it calls yesterday’s “sober autumn statement … in the face of great uncertainty and worrying economic figures” by chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond.
The federation’s chief executive, John Kampfner, has praised measures “which might benefit” the creative sector, including a £1 billion investment in high-speed broadband, £1.6 million for the new Studio 44 arts complex in Southampton, additional support for UK Export Finance and £1.8bn for local enterprise partnerships in England, but says the statement “appear[ed] to focus support for innovation and R&D [too] narrowly on science and tech”.
“The creative industries are the fastest-growing sector of the UK economy. […] We can deliver so much more if we are made a priority sector in the government’s thinking,” comments Kampfner.
“We can deliver so much more if we are made a priority sector in the government’s thinking”
While acknowledging the positives, Kampfner notes “there are several areas which have not been discussed today, such as education, skills and training, including apprenticeships, which we would hope will have a bigger place in the industrial strategy”.
The Creative Industries Federation last month published its Brexit Report, which called for “the creative industries to be put at the heart of government thinking as the country develops its new industrial strategy, forges new international trade deals and tackles the fractures in society exposed by June’s EU referendum vote”.
Hammond’s (pictured) speech can be viewed or read in full at the British government website.