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LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment), the umbrella trade body representing all corners of the UK’s live music industry has issued a statement expressing frustration that the Chancellor has failed to acknowledge the repeated calls to cut the VAT rate on ticket sales.

Jon Collins, CEO of LIVE, a federation of key live events industry organisations including the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Concert Promoters Association, National Arenas Association and Production Services Association, said that while the Chancellor’s announcement that the tax reliefs for orchestras and theatres will be made permanent was welcomed, LIVE is hugely disappointed by the lack of action on VAT.

He said, “Today’s Budget represents yet another missed opportunity to accelerate the growth of the live music sector and the wider economy while also providing urgently needed support for grassroots music through the reintroduction of a lower VAT rate. 20% VAT on tickets in the UK is vastly out of step with our competitors in Europe and North America and has become a material factor limiting the number of gigs, tours and festivals our world class industry can put on.

“Fewer shows mean reduced economic activity in towns and cities across the country – an estimated £1m is spent in local businesses for every 10,000 people who attend a gig – and heaps further pressure onto grassroots music venues that are closing down at an alarming rate. We need urgent action to ensure the whole sector can prosper in the long term.”

John Rostron, CEO of the AIF, which recently launched a Five Percent or Festivals campaign for reduced VAT, said he is disappointed that the Association’s calls for support for the UK music festival sector have not been met: “Festivals need a temporary reduction in VAT on ticket sales from 20% to 5% in order to recover from the impact of Covid and Brexit that has created a credit crunch that is seeing successful festivals having to postpone or cancel this year, months before their events are meant to take place. Yet another festival fell yesterday – the 15th event to fall already in 2024. Theatre has made the case for tax relief which is being extended indefinitely. We urge the Chancellor and the Treasury to now turn to festivals to offer a fraction of that support to ensure more events do not make 2024 their last.”

“We urge the Chancellor and the Treasury to now turn to festivals to offer a fraction of that support to ensure more events do not make 2024 their last.”

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) voiced its “profound disappointment” and concern over the lack of substantial support. It said that while the decision to freeze duty on alcohol and fuel, and the increase in VAT threshold, is appreciated, the measures fall short of addressing the comprehensive financial support required by businesses.

“The economic challenges faced by our sector are catastrophic, and following today’s spring budget announcement, the lack of support will have a profound impact on this sector for years to come,” said NTIA CEO Michael Kill. “For months, the entire sector has been providing the Government with critical information outlining our precarious situation and the urgent need for supportive measures to sustain businesses through these turbulent times.

“Even the autumn budget last year, which extended business rates relief, was marred by the Government’s use of it to offset increases in the National Living Wage, demonstrating a pattern of giving with one hand and taking with the other.”