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UK music industry urges new Prime Minister Liz Truss to urgently address the energy price crisis

By | Published on Tuesday 6 September 2022

Liz Truss

The UK gets a new Prime Minister today following Liz Truss’s victory in the Conservative Party leadership election. She takes over a country that political scientists would most likely classify as “well and truly fucked”. And – as she takes office and scans down the ‘Fucking Hell, Look At This Fucking Mess, Fuck Me, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck’ list, which her officials have presumably already compiled – the music industry is hoping that the various challenges it faces will be on there somewhere.

A number of music industry organisations put out statements following the confirmation of Truss’s win in the leadership election yesterday. They basically echoed previous statements issued by those organisations in recent weeks, highlighting that surging energy prices and the cost of living crisis mean that many of the music companies that just about survived the COVID shutdowns – venues, clubs and studios in particular – are in real risk of permanent closure in the months, weeks or even days ahead.

The big question, of course, is whether Truss and her incoming team are capable of addressing the multifarious economic and other challenges the UK, its citizens and its businesses currently face. Yes, the UK has finally got rid of the bullshitting bucket of ineptitude and corruption that created the current shit storm, the truly odious ‘Boris’ Johnson. But is the alliance of bullshitters and idiots that propped him up for so long capable of addressing that still intensifying shit storm?

We will see, I guess. Of course, lobbyists and campaigners from every sector and community group will have plenty of proposals for at least how to mitigate the impact of the current economic crisis. Noting that Truss employed Tory Campaign Cliche Number One during her leadership campaign – “tax cuts for everyone!” – UK Music yesterday honed in on one its current demands in particular, the restoration of the VAT cut for events and hospitality that was in place during the COVID pandemic.

UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said in a statement: “Congratulations to Liz Truss. We look forward to working with the new Prime Minister and her ministerial team at what is an immensely challenging time for the country. During the campaign, Liz Truss rightly talked about the need to tackle the crippling cost of living – and she must now deliver on that commitment immediately. Without urgent action to help music venues, studios and other music businesses, there is a real risk that many will go to the wall”.

“Rocketing costs have created an existential threat for many music businesses and it’s vital the government acts swiftly to protect the recovery that was under way in the music industry after the pandemic”, he went on. “Music venues alone have seen their fuel costs spiral by more than 300%, according to the Music Venue Trust. The government should make a significant cut to VAT from its current 20% rate to 5% – just as it did during the pandemic – and throw a lifeline to music businesses and help them through this crisis”.

“Without urgent support”, he added “there is a real chance that the billions spent keeping businesses and venues afloat during the pandemic will be wasted and that would be a tragedy. We risk losing cherished venues, studios and other music companies forever. That would be a devastating blow and cause irreparable damage to the talent pipeline that ensures the UK produces global music stars”.

“We all experienced the huge void there was without live music during the pandemic when venues were shut for months”, he concluded. “Without swift help for venues, studios and music companies struggling with soaring fuel bills, we risk losing them forever – and along with them a key part of the cultural fabric of our lives”.

The trade group for the UK live sector, LIVE, is also calling for the COVID-era VAT rate for events and hospitality to be restored. It also wants COVID-style grants to help businesses in severe hardship, a business rates holiday for all hospitality premises with no caps applied, measures to help businesses reduce their energy usage, the reinstatement of the UK tax authority’s Time To Pay scheme, and the reintroduction of a trade credit insurance scheme for energy.

LIVE CEO Jon Collins said: “The triple threat of a cost of living crisis, the post-pandemic hangover and skyrocketing energy prices could spell the end of the UK’s live music scene as we know it. Millions of people have just enjoyed a spectacular summer of live music, but this is now under threat. We face cuts to programming, venue closures and an unbearable strain on an already fragile industry. Government must act to protect this world-leading and uniquely British endeavour before it is too late”.

Meanwhile, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said in his statement: “We would like to congratulate Liz Truss on becoming the new Prime Minister, and look forward to continuing the relationship with the government under the new administration”.

“It would be hard to disguise the frustration and anxiety experienced across the industry, as we have had to patiently watch the leadership campaigns play out over the last four weeks”, he went on. “It is now vital that the new Prime Minister takes this opportunity to be decisive in tackling the cost inflation crisis, over the coming days, by reducing VAT across the board, extending business rates relief and implementing an energy cap for small medium enterprise businesses”.

“Over the coming weeks without an effective intervention from the government”, he concluded, “we will see thousands of businesses go to the wall and millions of jobs lost”.

As soon as Truss has decided which bullshitters and idiots from the top of the Tory Party to appoint to her new cabinet (the idiots generally have the edge over the bullshitters at the moment), the new PM is expected to make a number of announcements about the energy price crisis in particular, hoping for some easy wins in her first few days in office.

It remains to be seen if those measures help the music companies that are back on the brink right now. And also whether incoming ministers, including the new Culture Secretary, are any more willing to engage with the music and night-time sectors on these issues than the hodge podge of halfwits and hustlers that made up the Bullshitter In Chief’s final government. Good luck everybody!