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UK Music again calls for VAT relief scheme on ticket sales to be extended

By | Published on Tuesday 15 March 2022

UK Music

UK Music has urged Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak to keep the current VAT discount on ticket sales in place. That discount was one of the British government’s measures to support the live sector during the COVID pandemic and is currently due to end on 31 Mar.

Currently the VAT rate on ticket sales in the UK is 12.5%, but next month it will return to the standard VAT rate of 20%. However, with the live sector still very much in recovery mode after two years of disruption caused by the COVID pandemic, industry reps argue that that tax relief is still very much required.

Not least because the costs associated with staging live events – especially large-scale events – have increased considerably, and in many cases venues, promoters and festivals are still honouring tickets bought back in 2019 and 2020 for repeatedly postponed shows.

Music industry organisations have been calling for the discounted VAT rate to be extended for sometime, but UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has made the call again ahead of the spring statement Sunak is due to make in Parliament next week.

The cross sector trade group confirmed earlier today that Njoku-Goodwin has “written to the Chancellor to highlight the ‘hugely damaging’ impact that a planned Treasury hike in the VAT rate on gig tickets could have on millions of music fans and the music industry”.

It added: “Music industry leaders are … calling on the Chancellor to abandon the VAT rise to give the UK music industry and millions of music fans across the country a break just as live music returns after an absence of almost two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The call on the Chancellor to ditch the VAT hike is part of a six point plan for the music industry outlined in UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin’s letter to Rishi Sunak”.

Other measures in UK Music’s six point plan include extending the current business rates relief for music venues, providing a support fund to help British artists touring Europe to navigate post-Brexit bureaucracy, the launch of a music export office, tax relief for the music industry similar to that available to other creative industries, and better support for freelance workers.

Commenting on his letter to Sunak, Njoku-Goodwin says: “The planned hike in VAT could not come at a worse time for millions of music fans and the live music industry, which was shut down for almost two years due to the pandemic. We saw during those grim periods of lockdown just how important music was to people’s mental health and how it helped us get through some really tough times”.

“Pushing up VAT to 20% would be hugely damaging for the music industry and leave music fans facing a cost of gigging crisis”, he adds. “The rise would come at a time when we are rebuilding post-COVID-19, with hundreds of concerts planned over the next few months. We would urge the Chancellor to give people who already face rising prices and grim headlines every day a little lift by ditching the ticket tax and abandoning the VAT hike”.

“Dumping the planned VAT hike would help keep ticket prices down for fans and help music businesses pay down debts they built up during the pandemic, generate thousands of new jobs and nurture new talent”, he concludes. “It would help the music industry continue to recover and rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic, which wiped out around one in three jobs in our sector”.