THE GOVERNMENT has announced that small and mid-sized venues across the UK should benefit from a cut in business rates from the spring, as part of a broad package of measures to help small pubs, restaurants and high street retailers.
It says premises in England and Wales with a rateable value up to £51,000 will be granted 50 per cent business rate relief from 1 April.
However, the Government does not appear to have issued any further detail, such as other criteria or even a definition of what constitutes a live music venue in this situation.
No one from HM Treasury, which made the announcement, was available to comment as LIVE UK went to press, but the online version will be updated as information is received.
According to Music Venues Trust (MVT), its research estimates that £1.7 million will be released back into the grassroots live music sector, with an average reduction in overheads of £7,500 per year for 230 grassroots music venues likely to be affected. LIVE UK was unable to obtain background information on how these figures were reached, despite requests for clarification.
MVT, along with industry umbrella organisation UK Music and the Musicians Union have been lobbying for the business rate reduction.
“It’s excellent news, we have campaigned for a long time to prevent venues from being vulnerable to huge hikes in rates,” says UK Music deputy CEO Tom Kiehl. “This welcome development represents an important lifeline in the fight to protect venues.”
MVT CEO Mark Dayvd says, “There’s still a lot to be done on this specific issue, and we look forward to working with the governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland to make sure that grassroots music venues across the UK have a level playing field when it comes to business rates and public subsidies.
“Billions of pounds in revenue are being generated in the music industry from the music that is tested, developed, finds its audience and emerges from these vital spaces.”
Musicians Union official Kelly Wood says, “We welcome this news and are pleased to see the Government finally responded to the needs of the grassroots music venues.
“Small venues play a crucial role by offering stages, audiences and support to artistes at all stages of their careers. Furthermore, these venues uphold the UK’s world-renowned reputation for music, and ensure that there is a constant and diverse flow of artistes into all areas of the music industry.”
The Government’s website states that businesses below a rateable value of £12,000 or less don’t pay business rates on a property, which automatically rules out benefits for the venues who fall below the threshold.
Pubs and other venues that present live music have not been eligible for business rate relief under the Government’s retail discount scheme, although it is understood that those with a rateable value below £12,000 are exempt from business rates altogether.
See the next issue of LIVE UK for a comprehensive review of the Government’s business rates initiative and how it will affect music venues.