UK music industry pressures Jeremy Hunt to cut VAT in Spring Budget | UK | News

The UK’s music industry is urging Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to slash VAT in the Budget to bring it into line with other European countries and throw the beleaguered sector a “vital lifeline” to help save closure-threatened venues.

Ahead of this weekend’s glittering Brit Awards ceremony at London’s O2 Arena, UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl has thrown the spotlight on the ecosystem that creates our world-conquering superstars and supercharges the economy to the tune of over £10bn annually.

The UK currently has the third highest VAT rate on tickets in Europe putting grassroots venues at significant disadvantage to their foreign competitors. Music lovers pay 20% – more tax than anywhere else except Denmark and Lithuania. Meanwhile concert goers in Belgium pay 6% while in Germany it is 7%.

Experts say a cut to the European average of 10% would provide a crucial lifeline to local venues that are being decimated by rising costs.

Over 125 grassroots music venues were lost in 2023, according to the Music Venue Trust (MVT) charity. Among the high-profile closures was Bath venue Moles, which helped launch the careers of Ed Sheeran, Oasis and Radiohead.

Tom said: “We urgently need to see some action from the Chancellor in the Budget to support the UK music industry at what is an immensely tough time for many venues and for those working in our sector.

“Cutting VAT on tickets to 10% would be a vital lifeline and could mean the difference between saving and losing some of our most loved music venues, which are key parts of many local economies and communities.

“Reducing the tax burden will help boost investment at grassroots level and give local venues and economies across the UK a much needed shot in the arm.

“Venues are part of a wide music ecosystem, which needs support in a number of important areas to help the sector grow and thrive.”

Also supporting the Daily Express’ Strike A Chord campaign to transform music education in state schools, Tom urged a loosening of the purse strings to provide more investment in teacher recruitment.

He added: “The music industry’s talent pipeline faces an existential crisis unless more music teachers are hired to nurture the next generation of stars.

“The UK has a world-leading music sector. However, it needs action from the Government to ensure it can continue to grow for decades to come.”

An estimated 14.4 million “music tourists” travelled to enjoy live music at venues across the UK in 2022, according to UK Music’s Here, There and Everywhere report published last year.

Gig-goers spent £6,6bn directly on tickets and it is estimated that every £10 spent on a live music ticket is worth £17 to the wider local economy.

The UK’s music industry is the third largest recorded music market in the world and UK music exports were worth £4 billion in 2022. The UK remains one of only three net exporters of music globally and is the second-largest exporter of recorded music after the USA.

Expert comment by Brit rocker Jeremy Pritchard of Everything Everything.

It’s a long journey for the performers playing to an audience of ten of thousands at the BRITs ceremony, and millions watching on television.

But the fact is that there has never been a tougher time for artists trying to break through.

Dozens of small venues, the vital and fertile breeding grounds of the UK scene, are being forced to close due to a range of issues including rising rents, energy costs and problems with licensing.

The decline in grassroots music venues and rehearsal spaces means it’s harder than ever for emerging bands to find places to play and to practice.

If we want to nurture the talent of the future, and keep our internationally-enviable touring network of venues intact, we need urgent support from the Government.

One beneficial step would be for the Government to cut the 20% VAT rate on concert tickets to 10%. That would be a huge help to venues teetering on the brink of closure, and to the artists that rely on them.

It would also help encourage more fans into grassroots music venues that provide even more for their local communities than the music itself. They are inclusive social spaces, and nothing else fills that gap.

The UK has a first rate music industry, abundant in talent and the rich sub-cultures it engenders. If we want it to survive we need the right assistance.

 

Everything Everything has a new album ‘Mountainhead’ out now. Jeremy Pritchard sit on the boards of both the Featured Artists Coalition and Music Venue Trust.

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