Music industry organisations are calling on the UK's new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, to take steps to help businesses with the mounting energy crisis.
Music Venue Trust, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), UK Music, and LIVE are among the bodies lobbying for more action from government to support the sector, which is currently facing a triple threat. Venues have reported an average 30% increase in running costs since reopening last year, while ticket sales and attendance figures remain highly unpredictable as exemplified in a survey published earlier this year by promoters Keep Hush.
Meanwhile, a May report from Music Venue Trust of 941 members showed energy bills had increased by an average 316%, with prices set to rise again next month. Although one of the first steps by Truss since she took office on Monday 5th September has been to announce a major intervention worth over £100bn to protect individuals from unaffordable utility bills — with a price freeze confirmed today of £2,500 per year — so far nothing has been confirmed for businesses.
As such, UK Music is urging the government to look at similar support for entertainment and hospitality as offered at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when VAT rates were lowered from 20% to 5%. LIVE, the live music trade organisation, has called for a reversal of the 2022 VAT rate increase, the re-introduction of HMRC's Time To Pay scheme — which extends the period in which companies can settle tax bills — and measures to help reduce energy use and charges.
“Congratulations to Liz Truss. During the campaign, Liz Truss rightly talked about the need to tackle the crippling cost of living — and she must now deliver on that commitment immediately. Without urgent action to help music venues, studios and other music businesses, there is a real risk that many will go to the wall," said UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin. "The Government should make a significant cut to VAT from its current 20% rate to 5% — just as it did during the pandemic — and throw a lifeline to music businesses and help them through this crisis."
Music Venue Trust's Mark Davyd has also called for support with bills, citing one grassroots establishment that has seen its projected energy costs go from £10,000 to £144,000 per year, with Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, reiterating the need not just for steps targeting tax, but direct assistance with bills in the form of an energy cap for small and medium businesses.
"It is now vital that the new Prime Minister takes this opportunity to be decisive in tackling the cost inflation crisis, over the coming days, by reducing VAT across the board, extending business rates relief and implementing an energy cap for small-medium enterprise businesses,” Krill said.
Following pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions ending in 2021, one-in-five UK clubs have closed down, according to an NTIA report. Many that survived are yet to fully recover financially from losses incurred and debt taken on during that period.
Photo: Benedict Priddy