Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the Government will consider providing cancelation insurance support for live events unable to acquire commercial indemnity if and when all Covid-19 restrictions are lifted on 21 June.
Speaking at a DCMS Committee evidence session yesterday, 13 May, Dowden said, “I have a laser-like focus on making sure we get the events industry back up and running and that really requires us to reach Stage 4 on the roadmap on 21 June, which will see the removal of all remaining restrictions. We are well on track for that but there are challenges.
“Once we get to that point, if it is the case that events still can’t go ahead because of a lack of insurance and the failure of the commercial insurance market, we stand ready to look at if we can use government intervention, exactly the same way as we did with the film industry.
“With the film industry the priority was to get it back up and running and when it was back up and running and it was still the case that productions couldn’t go ahead because of a lack of commercial insurance, that is the point that we brought forward proposals.
“That is not to say we have been sitting on our laurels in between, I have had extensive discussions with the prime minister and the chancellor and we have lots of options but it has to be the case first that we know something can go ahead, and if the final barrier is commercial insurance that is the point at which we would contemplate acting.”
When the committee suggested the offer of support was too late and that events organisers were now facing a “lost summer” with 25% of festivals already having cancelled, Dowden responded by saying that there was still too much uncertainty at present for the taxpayer to provide indemnity.
He said, “With every passing week I get more confident, but we still don’t know that we can fully go ahead from 21 June. I don’t think it is reasonable to expect the tax payer to provide a full indemnity for all those events if it is not possible for them to happen. If it is different proposition if they can happen.”
Separately, Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn, who has been heavily involved in the Government’s Events Research Programme, has predicted there should be news on a Government-backed cancellation insurance scheme by 14 June, with a scheme potentially in place from mid-July.