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Music industry reacts to UK’s new energy cost plans

By | Published on Friday 9 September 2022

Live Music

There was a mixed response from the live music and night-time sectors yesterday as new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her grand plan for dealing with spiralling energy costs. The Music Venue Trust said that that plan “only goes some way in alleviating the challenge”, while the Night Time Industries Association called it a “half measure package”.

Energy prices have soared in recent months, of course, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, and Russia’s limiting of gas supplies, playing a big role in that. While the UK relies less on Russian gas than other European countries, the crisis has pushed up wholesale energy prices across the world.

Under the new plan, UK households will see the price that energy suppliers can charge per unit capped for the next two years, so that consumers will pay an average of £2500 per year. That policy reverses a previously announced rise in the energy price cap that was set to see the average bill rise from £1971 to £3549 on 1 Oct.

The cap will also be extended to businesses for the first time, although initially only for six months. Once the initial six month period is up, the government says that it will “provide ongoing, focused support for vulnerable industries”, with the first review of where this support should be directed due in three months.

Responding to the news, the MVT’s Venue Support Manager, Clara Cullen, said yesterday: “The financial impact of the energy price rises on the grassroots music venue sector presents an existential challenge. For a sector with a total gross turnover of £399 million, the current rise equates to an additional £90 million in costs”.

“The policy announced today only goes some way in alleviating the challenge, in the very short-term, by creating an energy price cap for businesses that will be in place for an initial six months”, she continued. “The government has committed to reviewing this policy in conjunction with the hospitality sector. Music Venue Trust will contribute to this review to ensure the perspective of grassroots music venues are included in this decision-making process”.

“As the policy announced today is only a temporary short-term measure, Music Venue Trust urges the government to take further action to ensure a long-term solution for energy provision for grassroots music venues providing an energy supply which is affordable, reliable and sustainable”, she concluded. ”We need this action to take place as soon as possible to protect, secure and improve our grassroots music venues”.

More damning of the new measures, NTIA CEO Michael Kill said: “We are extremely disappointed at the announcement by the Prime Minister today, this half measure package is tantamount to support experienced during the pandemic, but lacks considerable detail to alleviate current business concerns”.

“We have no time for drip fed support, or to await the impact assessment of incremental measures, this needs to be a concise and immediately accessible package, which is proportionate and scalable”, he added.

“As the first major announcement of the Prime Minister and Chancellor’s tenure”, he went on, “the government has failed businesses today, and with mounting debt across the sector we will see many have no choice but to consider the future, placing thousands of jobs at risk in the coming weeks, without additional support”.

With no previous price cap on their energy bills, live music and hospitality businesses, as well as recording studios, reported that they were facing price rises of between 300% and 700%, threatening many with closure as they were unable to bear these increased costs.

Whether these new measures will be enough to keep the lights on (literally) through the winter remains to be seen.