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The Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) has been criticised after suggesting musicians, artists and actors could get another job, and there is still work available in the creative industry.

Speaking during a House of Commons debate yesterday, 6 October, that saw MPs discuss the need to support the UK’s Covid-hit music industry, Labour MP Kevin Brennan quoted an ITV report that claimed the chancellor had suggested musicians and others in the arts industries may need to retrain and find new jobs.

Brennan said Sunak was in danger of becoming the Aunt Mimi of Government: “She was John Lennon’s aunt, who told him to grow up and get a proper job”.

The 90-minute session was secured by Conservative MP Nickie Aiken, whose Cities of London and Westminster constituency includes a host of music venues.

In her introduction to the debate she emphasised the economic value of the live music sector: “Live music and cultural venues play a vital role within the eco system of the West End, and it is the same across the UK.

“Figures provided by UK Music suggests that every £10 spent on a ticket for a gig in a live music venue is worth £17 to the local economy. One gig by Ed Sheeran in Ipswich last year brought in £58 for every pound spent by the local council to put on the event, with a net value of more than £9m to the local economy.”

Closing the session, minister for digital and culture Caroline Dinenage said the Government was doing everything it could to support the UK’s live music industry and was aware the sector would like greater clarity on the potential transition to stage 5 given the lead-in time required to get events off the ground: “DCMS will continue to work with the sector to establish an appropriate pilot process for testing and return to stage 5 activity, and we are working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care on their Moonshot programme.

“We want to see full audiences return as soon as possible, but we have always been clear that moving to stage 5 will ultimately be determined by the public health context. We are working at pace with the sector on innovative proposals for how full audiences can return when it is safe to do so.

“My ministerial colleagues and myself are dedicated to doing everything we can to help this incredibly important sector, and we are acutely aware of the damage that Covid-19 has done.”