Music Venue Trust has called on the UK government to extend business rate relief for its members.
It follows the results of MVT’s annual survey, which found that closures are currently taking place at a rate of more than one week. The charity represents almost 900 UK grassroots music venues (GMVs).
Following lobbying by Music Venue Trust and others, then Chancellor Rishi Sunak created a 50% rate relief specific to GMVs in January 2020. In March 2020, it was zero rated for the entire retail, hospitality, and leisure sector as a result of the pandemic. Further concessions were then extended across these sectors in 2021, 2022 and 2023, and as a result GMVs currently enjoy a 75% business rate relief.
However, there was a recent announcement that these reliefs are to end in April 2024, which MVT has calculated would impose an additional £15 million of costs on the sector.
As a result, pleas are being made to the UK government to extend the current arrangements and to carry out a radical reform of business rates to prevent a further decline of the GMV sector. According to the Music Venue Trust’s recent annual survey, 78 venues permanently closed in the last 12 months at a rate of more than one a week.
The current business rates system is anachronistic, inconsistent and outdated
Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, said: “The current business rates system is anachronistic, inconsistent and outdated, and fails to meet the principles of good tax design. The UK government is currently conducting a consultation on wider reforms but the solutions they have so far proposed are in no way radical enough to redress fundamental inequalities that will lead to many more venue closures.
“We are already losing GMVs at a catastrophic rate, which has had a knock-on effect of 4,000 jobs losses, the removal of 14,250 live music events and 193,230 performance opportunities for musicians, £9m of musician income and £59m of economic activity. By extending business rates relief past next April the government could throw a vital lifeline to GMVs already holding onto survival by their fingertips.”