Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) CEO Paul Reed (pictured), UK Music acting CEO Tom Kiehl and Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill said the measures announced today, 24 September, by chancellor Rishi Sunak do not go far enough.
“While the extension to the VAT cut is welcome, these measures are not even a band aid for a sector that remains severely wounded,” said Reed.
Sunak announced measures including a Job Support Scheme, which will replace the furlough scheme when it ends on 31 October. To be eligible, an employee must work at least 33% of their normal hours. In total an employee will receive 77% of their full pay, with the government paying 22.5%.
Continued Reed, “Festivals support 85,000 jobs in the UK and our most recent member surveys suggest redundancies of at least 50.5% across the sector, some of which have unfortunately already taken place.
“With the sector still not generating any income at all this year, many employers will simply not be in a position to pay 55% of their employees’ salaries to access the support offered by the Government’s new job support scheme.
“This remains a broad-brush approach, and we urgently need targeted support.
“We are awaiting the outcome of Cultural Recovery Fund applications on 5 October and this will determine if the independent festival sector will in fact receive the support that it urgently requires.”
Kiehl welcomed Sunak’s jobs scheme but said there was a lack of direct support for the UK music industry, which contributes £5.2bn to the UK economy, and a need to help the 190,000 workers in the sector.
He said, “There appears to be little to give comfort to the many talented people in the music industry who are key to our entrepreneurial future.
“We need special arrangements and sector specific support for the music industry, where 72% of the workforce are self-employed, until our industry can get back on its feet.”
Kill said the night-time economy has been totally disregarded by government policy: “The government narrative has delivered empty promises and left us an industry in exile. Debt terms have been driven further down the road for a sector that is already overburdened financially, with many of our members languishing in up to three quarters of commercial rent arrears with no certainty on whether they can pay this.
“It is simply not good enough to allow much loved entertainment, cultural and social institutions in an industry that, pre Covid, employed over 1.3 million and contributed £66 billion per year to the UK economy to disappear with all the corporate and personal pain that causes.”
“At some point these businesses will have to draw a line and will be forced to make a decision on the future of their businesses and their workforce.”