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Chancellor “missed a great opportunity” by not fixing venue business rates issue in spring statement

By | Published on Thursday 14 March 2019

UK Music

Cross-sector trade group UK Music has said it is disappointed that the government’s chief money man, Chancellor Of The Exchequer Philip Hammond, didn’t use his so called spring statement yesterday to help the country’s grassroots venues by extending a business rates relief scheme.

Both UK Music and the Music Venue Trust have previously hit out at the government for excluding music venues from a business rates relief programme designed to help small businesses on the high street. Bars and restaurants do benefit. Having access to that scheme is particularly important for those grassroots venues who saw their bills go up following a recent review of what business rates are due on any one property.

UK Music confirmed last month that its campaign to get venues added to the list of businesses that benefit from that relief scheme now had cross-party support in Parliament. The trade body’s CEO Michael Dugher also met with Hammond, alongside Labour’s Shadow Culture Minister Kevin Brennan, to discuss the issue.

However, Hammond didn’t then mention it in his spring statement. Responding, Dugher said yesterday: “The Chancellor missed a great opportunity with his spring statement to give some much-needed help to hard-pressed grassroots music venues. It’s ludicrous for the government to say that grassroots music venues are ‘not similar’ to pubs and clubs”.

“We will keep pressing the Chancellor to listen to UK Music, the Music Venue Trust and senior MPs from across the political spectrum who want him to urgently rethink this policy”, he added. “Our chance of developing future talent is put in jeopardy if performers cannot find a place to play to nurture their talent and grow their audience. Supporting grassroots venues must be a key part of the government’s industrial strategy for music”.

However, UK Music did welcome some of the announcements Hammond made yesterday. The lobbying group said it “welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement that a £700 million package to help small and medium-sized enterprises invest in apprenticeships will be rolled out from next month” and the promised “new investment in cities and city regions”.