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Cross-party Support Gathered for UK Music’s Call on Chancellor to Help Music Venues with Business Rate Rebate

The Musicians’ Union (MU) welcomes news of cross-party support from senior MPs following UK Music’s call for grassroots music venues to be eligible to apply for business rates discounts.

UK Music called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to end the “discrimination” that could force grassroots music venues out of business. UK Music CEO Michael Dugher and Labour’s Shadow Culture Minister Kevin Brennan met Mr Hammond for urgent talks after some venues were hit by business rate rises of over 800%.

The meeting came after Mr Dugher and Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd wrote to the Chancellor in January, accusing him of discriminating against music venues over the issue of business rates and called for Treasury guidance to be changed.

Their request followed a letter from a Treasury official in December which said that grassroots music venues – unlike bars and pubs – would not be eligible to apply for a discount on their business rates.

Examining the impact of a revaluation of business rates

At the meeting – granted after Mr Brennan raised the industry’s concerns with the Chancellor in the House of Commons – UK Music’s CEO presented the Chancellor with a dossier outlining the impact of a revaluation of business rates in 2017.

The Music Venue Trust warned that 35% of music venues had closed in a decade, and that the impact of the business rate hike could see more going dark within months without a Government rethink.

For example, Arsenal Football Club enjoyed a 7% cut in its business rates on its Emirates Stadium as a result of a revaluation in April 2017, whereas the nearby Nambucca music venue has been subject to a 44% per cent increase in its rateable value.

The rate hike means some venues such as The MacBeth in east London have been forced to endure a rate hike of a staggering £20,496 – a huge increase of 806%, taking their current business rate to £23,040.

Reducing business rate bills by one-third for grassroots venues

Mr Dugher urged the Chancellor to add grassroots music venues within the qualifying value of between £12,001 and £50,999 within the retail discount, reducing their business rate bills by one-third.

UK Music said this would be a lifeline for small venues and play a vital part in nurturing the talent pipeline vital to the chances of creating the next Ed Sheeran, Stormzy or Adele.

According to UK Music estimates given to Mr Hammond, 124 grassroots venues face an average rate rise of 31%. They could potentially qualify for the new discount, saving them approximately £4,147 a year. Over two years, allowing music venues the discount would cost the Treasury £1 million.

Read about the MU’s work to keep music live, and how you can get involved.

Published: 27/02/2019

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