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The arts and the culture sector has welcomed the end of Covid-19 restrictions but urged the Government to continue its support and not abandon the industry in the coming months.

Speaking in a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said that from 24 February it will no longer be a law to self-isolate when testing positive for Covid-19 and free mass testing will stop from 1 April.

Industry body LIVE has called on the Government to consider a cultural VAT rate of 5% on ticket sales, as well as a further extension of the current business rates relief scheme until the end of the 2024-5 tax year.

LIVE CEO Greg Parmley said, “The end of Covid-19 restrictions represents a huge, welcome relief to the live music sector, which lost billions in revenue throughout the pandemic. But with spiralling costs and thousands of companies struggling with pandemic debt, it’s crucial that Government does not abandon and set the sector adrift, just as it starts to tread water again.”

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) CEO Paul Reed reiterated the need for continued VAT relief on festival tickets to maintain the current reduced 12.5% rate on tickets beyond the end of March. He said some form of Government-backed loan scheme for suppliers would be welcomed to ease some of the pressures and encourage investment in the festival supply chain.

Reed said, “While we welcome legal restrictions around Covid-19 coming to an end and the prospect of a full capacity festival season, the effects of the pandemic are still being felt by the independent festival sector and the need for Government action remains. With festival organisers facing crippling cost increases of up to 30% across operations and infrastructure, this is not back to business as usual for festivals and it is not a case of ‘job done’ for Ministers.”

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill said, “Experts have suggested that recovery to pre-Covid trading levels will take several years, but we cannot lose sight of the short term role that the Government must continue to play in supporting the sector, beginning with the Chancellor’s budget in March.

“The extension of VAT & Business rates relief remains a key ask, allowing businesses the financial headroom to survive, on this long road to recovery.

“Given the commitment and support, over the last two years, that the sector has given to the Government’s public health strategy, it is only right that they recognise and support the hardest hit industries through the final phase of this crisis.”