Music industry calls on Jeremy Hunt to cut VAT rates for financially squeezed venues

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The UK music sector is calling on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to slash VAT rates for financially squeezed venues ahead of the spring budget.

Industry collective UK Music is urging Hunt to slash the current 20% VAT rates on gig tickets by half, arguing that lower rates would “boost customers” and increase attraction to music venues.

Tom Kiehl, the Interim Chief Executive at UK Music, has asked for a reduction of rates down to 10% ahead of Hunt’s budget announcement on Wednesday, March 6.

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“Cutting VAT on tickets to 10% would be a vital lifeline and could mean the difference between saving and losing some of our most loved music venues, which are key parts of many local economies and communities,” says Kiehl.

He added that the music industry is going through an “immensely tough time”, and is in “urgent need” of support, particularly for industry workers and venues.

Current VAT rates in the UK are the third highest of all ticketing rates in Europe, almost double the European average. According to UK Music, rates are triple those of countries such as Belgium (6%), or Germany (7%).

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“Reducing the tax burden will help boost investment at grassroots level and give local venues and economies across the UK a much-needed shot in the arm,” Kiehl says.

The call comes amidst a “troubling” time for the music industry as hundreds of venues sit on a financial cliff edge due to skyrocketing energy bills, rising labour costs, and the impact of the cost of living crisis.

Grassroots music venues in the UK faced their “most challenging year” in 2023, according to findings from the Music Venues Trust (MVT). The NTIA also recently reported a loss of 32% of clubs in the UK since the pandemic.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag’s Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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