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Live sector calls for three year extension of VAT cut on tickets

By | Published on Thursday 4 February 2021


The UK live sector is calling on the government to extend the current discount on VAT for ticket sales for another three years. The current discount, so that the VAT paid on tickets is just 5%, was introduced as a COVID support measure but is currently due to end on 31 Mar.

LIVE, the new organisation that brings together the various trade bodies representing the different strands of the live sector, says that the VAT cut was a significant and positive measure implemented by the UK government to help the live entertainment industry weather the COVID storm and recover once the crisis is over.

However, with the COVID shutdown still being in place – resulting in another round of shows being cancelled or postponed – the industry has not been able to benefit from the VAT measure in the way that was originally intended. Therefore it should be extended so that it still applies until all COVID restrictions have been lifted and the sector has fully recovered from the impact of the pandemic.

In a statement yesterday, LIVE noted that when the VAT cut was announced last year it was hoped that “it would help to revitalise businesses devastated by the pandemic, but [those businesses] are yet to benefit due to being almost completely closed since last March. If the government raises VAT now, then it will have been a pointless policy and will pull millions of pounds of support just at the time it is needed the most”.

The CEO of LIVE, Greg Parmley, added: “The live music industry supports hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs across the UK and brings in billions of pounds for the UK economy. This policy was brought in to support our industry during these desperate times but currently we are still closed. Reversing this policy before we can start to sell tickets again would be perverse and cripple our recovery”.

Extending the VAT cut for three years does enjoy some support in political circles. The Chair of Parliament’s culture select committee, Julian Knight MP, echoed LIVE’s comments yesterday, stating: “Pulling the plug on the reduced VAT rate for ticket sales now would be short-sighted. The [culture select] committee recommended in its July 2020 report that the 5% VAT rate should be kept for three years. With live events still unable to operate, this is needed more than ever”.

LIVE is encouraging the wider events sector to get behind its call for the VAT cut extension using the hashtag #KeepVATat5, with the hope that Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak will include such an extension in his budget speech next month.