UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has praised a planned review of business rates as a ‘vital lifeline’ for grassroots music venues and a ‘victory for common sense’.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Government included a proposal to overhaul business rates in legislative proposals unveiled in the Queen’s Speech on 19 December. The retail discount will increase from one-third to 50 per cent, as well as – crucially – being extended to cover cinemas and music venues for the first time.
With some venues having faced crippling business rate hikes of up to 600 per cent, leaving many struggling to survive, UK Music has fought a long campaign to end the discrimination against music venues previously blocked from enjoying the same rate cut as other businesses like pubs and clubs.
The campaign saw Michael Dugher hold top-level talks with previous Chancellor Philip Hammond to push the case for a level playing field and a fair deal for music venues.
Michael Dugher said:
‘This is a huge victory for common sense and, most importantly, for music venues who will welcome this early Christmas present. Cutting business rates for music venues cannot happen soon enough. This change will prove a vital lifeline for venues that are at the heart of many communities.
‘UK Music has been relentless in pushing the Government for this change and we’re delighted that there will be a level playing field for music venues.
‘We welcome the Government’s proposals for more frequent revaluations to ensure business rates bills are more up-to-date and reflect the current rental value of a property. Our thanks in particular go to DCMS Minister Nigel Adams, who has been a consistent and staunch supporter of grassroots music venues.
‘We will be talking to Government ministers and officials in the coming weeks to try to get these important change in place as swiftly as possible.”
Dugher also highlighted proposed measures outlined in the Queen’s Speech to cover online harms as an important area for the music industry.
He said it was vital that future legislation in this area must cover economic harms such as the issue of copyright, as well as the key measures to clamp down on the use of the internet by terrorists and those engaged in child abuse.