UK Live Music Sector Welcomes VAT Relief Announced by the Government

Yesterday’s (9 July) announcement by the Government of a reduction in VAT on ticket sales to 5% until the end of the year has been welcomed by key organisations in the live music industry. The reduction will provide vital support for an industry that has been one of the hardest hit during the Coronavirus crisis.

This announcement, alongside the £1.57 billion financial aid package of emergency grants and loans that was announced last week, shows the Government has listened and is willing to work with the sector. Live music was one of the fastest growing industries in the UK before the crisis and these targeted support measures have significantly improved the chances that the sector will be able to bounce back and help the economic recovery.

The announcement followed the hugely successful #LetTheMusicPlay day that saw 1,500 artists write directly to culture secretary Oliver Dowden, and tens of millions of fans posting online about the importance of live music, a £4.5bn sector that employs 210,000 people.

“Yesterday’s announcement on the VAT reduction for ticket sales is a significant show of support for our industry from the Government and is a sign that they are willing to work with us to find targeted measures to support this vital part of the UK economy” said Phil Bowdery, the Chair of the Concert Protomers Association and the Executive President for International Touring for Live Nation. “We want to thank the Government, and in particular Oliver Dowden and Rishi Sunak, for their support and the confidence they have shown in the iconic UK live music industry.”

He added: “We also know there is lots more to do and our industry is not out of the woods yet and we will continue to work hard with the Government to get the support the industry needs over the coming months.”

Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust said: “We warmly welcome this sensible intervention into the live music sector which responds directly to the asks we made of the government for the support we need. To unlock the potential value this creates, we urgently need some firm commitments to reopening dates and some guidelines that would allow us to get tickets on sale and benefit from this tax cut.”

Lucy Noble, Chair of the National Arenas Association and Artistic and Commercial Director of the Royal Albert Hall added: “The measures the Chancellor announced yesterday include a hugely welcome reduction in VAT from 20% to 5% for various sectors, including tickets for concerts. We are extremely grateful to the Chancellor, Treasury Ministers and DCMS for listening to us and for their willingness to consider and implement measures to support the music industry at this critical time.”

Live music was one of the first industries to close, and concerts are not expected to return in earnest until well into 2021. According to member research compiled by each of the live music associations[1], over the six month period between October 2020 and March 2021, the operating costs of the broader live music sector will be £298.8m. This figure is in addition to the £47m required by grassroots music venues, called for by Music Venue Trust.