'Woefully unjust': UK Music chief slams business rates as studios and venues take financial hit

'Woefully unjust': UK Music chief slams business rates as studios and venues take financial hit

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher is demanding the Chancellor orders an urgent review in the Budget of business rates to protect thousands of music venues and studios.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is already under intense pressure to drop a planned 4% rise in business rates next year when he unveils his Budget next week (November 22).

Dugher (pictured) warned the rises – coupled with the impact of the Government’s business rates revaluation earlier this year – could leave music venues fighting to survive.

One small venue, the Lexington in north London, has seen a rise of 118% in its rateable value this year, compared to Arsenal FC’s 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium nearby enjoyed a 7% cut in its rateable value.

Dugher said: “The Chancellor must rethink these changes which are woefully unjust and could have a potentially catastrophic impact on some music venues and recording studios.”

In an open letter to Hammond, Dugher said: "The Government’s recent business rates revaluation has resulted in a substantial rise in the rateable value of many music companies. UK Music is concerned that solutions have not yet been put in place to avoid damaging impacts on our industry. We are further alarmed that inflation linked business rate increases, as anticipated in spring 2018, will result in additional financial burdens. 

"We would be grateful if you would consider a review of the impact of the recent revaluation on music businesses and take steps to support the industry at this crucial time. Additionally, the Valuation Office Agency should work with the music industry to agree an approved guide on business rating. This already exists for public houses yet there is no equivalent document for music venues and recording studios.

"The margins that many music businesses operate within means that even the slightest increase in costs can create a significant challenge."

New research from UK Music reveals that recording studios have also faced substantial increases in 2017. The rateable value of the world-famous Abbey Road Studios increased by 32% in 2017. Air Studios, where the soundtrack to Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express was recently recorded, has also experienced a rise of 32%.

In the past decade, around 35% of music venues have closed, according to the Music Venue Trust charity.

We also call on the Government to maintain in practice the agricultural exemption to business rates which has historically supported music festival activities and prevent punitive measures that would be arbitrary and unfair to these events. 

UK Music would happily work with your officials to develop a system for business rates that enhances the creative and entrepreneurial activities of our industry.

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