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UK Music Industry Figures Share Reactions To Chancellor's Budget
Christian Eede , March 3rd, 2021 18:00

While an extension to furlough and self-employment support has been welcomed, Rishi Sunak has not heeded calls for a Government-backed insurance scheme for events such as festivals

Chancellor Rishi Sunak today (March 3) revealed his Spring Budget, including a number of measures relevant to the hospitality and events industry.

As well as an extension to the 5% relief in VAT rates for the hospitality sector, the furlough and self-employment income support schemes will continue until September. The Chancellor also announced that an additional £300 million would be funnelled into the Culture Recovery Fund, which was originally set up last year with £1.57 billion to support various cultural organisations in England.

Sunak, however, did not today heed calls for an insurance support scheme to protect events such as festivals against cancellation this summer should delays happen to the UK Government's roadmap out of the current COVID-19 lockdown. Announced by Boris Johnson last week, the roadmap suggested that social distancing measures could be relaxed fully by June 21 at the earliest.

Following today's announcement, a number of music industry and Parliamentary figures have welcomed some of the measures featured within the Budget, though have also suggested it doesn't go far enough.

Jeff Smith MP, Chair of the APPG for the Night Time Economy, which has been leading an inquiry into COVID-19's impact on UK nightlife, said: "The Chancellor has extended the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), but he must now ensure that this money makes its way to night time economy businesses across the sector. What is deemed 'culture' by the Government must be expanded so that more nightclubs, bars, and supply chain businesses can access funding.

"Unless the CRF criteria are expanded, or the Government provide sector-specific support, businesses that have been closed for a year will feel let down. What a tragedy it would be for businesses to fail with the end of the crisis in sight – jobs and skills lost from the sector forever, and the public money spent supporting them so far wasted."

Smith added that it's "also disappointing that the Chancellor hasn't put in place an insurance scheme for events – a step other European countries have taken." He said many events will be cancelled or postponed as a result.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), supported the extension of VAT relief and further funding to the Culture Recovery Fund, but said "the Budget is yet another statement from the Chancellor that has failed to recognise the need for additional support for the night-time economy sector."

He continued: "With no meaningful expansion to CRF eligibility, and no bespoke support for our sector, we are once again left with a package totally incommensurate with businesses' costs – including spiralling commercial rent arrears. The loan solutions outlined by the Chancellor just aren't good enough for businesses that are already overburdened with debt."

Kill also shared his disappointment about the lack of measures for Government-backed insurance to help concert and festival organisers. You can read Kill's statement in full here.

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said "the clock is ticking when it comes to staging live music events this summer," adding that "organisers are making decisions in the next few days and weeks about whether they can proceed or will be forced to cancel.

"To make sure we can move ahead with live events, festival and concert organisers need the confidence that there is the safety-net of an insurance scheme that is already enjoyed by the film and TV industries."

Find Njoku-Goodwin's full response here, alongside a number of other UK music industry representatives' comments.