#KeepVATat5

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The music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall are joining the live music industry in urging the Government to extend the reduced 5% VAT rate on tickets.

As one of the first industries to close at the outset of the pandemic, and now one of the last to reopen, live music has been one of the hardest hit sectors of the COVID-19 crisis.

Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, the UK’s creative industries were growing at five times the rate of the wider economy, generating £11.25bn in GVA each year and supporting over 600,000 jobs. Over a third of that contribution is made by the live music industry, which adds £4.5 billion to the UK’s annual GVA, and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs both through direct employment and its highly skilled supply chain. From a record high in 2019, revenue fell by 81% in 2020, and 50% of permanent roles have now been lost.

Over the last few years we have evolved into an organisation that earns more than 90% of its turnover from our trading activities and this supports every aspect of what we do, from presenting international superstars on our stages to supporting emerging talent and creating first musical experiences for children in local schools. I will continue to join industry voices in raising awareness for the dire situation currently being faced by the live events industry. 2020 was one of the most difficult years ever for the live music industry. Our sector was the first to be hit by the pandemic and without help it won’t survive. We need urgent and targeted action from the government now.

Nick Reed, Chief Executive for the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall

The entire live music industry now faces a cliff edge scenario. Without urgent and targeted Government intervention, the companies, artists, workers and infrastructure that support the industry’s complex ecosystem will not be there to recover once the pandemic is over.

To support the live music industry during this crisis the Government reduced the rate of VAT on ticket sales to 5% but now want to increase this back to 20%.

One of the most impactful ways the Government can support the live music industry is by extending the reduced 5% VAT rate on ticket sales. This policy was warmly welcomed when it was announced last year, but the live music industry has not yet truly benefited from it as almost no activity has taken place due to ongoing lockdown restrictions.

If the 5% VAT rate were in place once ordinary ticket sales had resumed (annual consumer spend on live music is approximately £1.7bn), the industry would benefit from a saving of around £320m - income businesses across the live music ecosystem desperately need to recover. 

Recent media reports have suggested that the Government does not plan to extend the relief beyond March 31, 2021. The DCMS Select Committee has recommended a three-year extension to the reduced rate which could be a lifeline for the live music industry.

Increasing VAT by 400% at a time when the live music industry needs crucial support would be catastrophic for our recovery.

Right now financial support is vital to the survival of our iconic industry.