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Coronavirus: Concerns grow over government’s live events insurance scheme

The UK Live Events Reinsurance Scheme was announced over the summer

By Tom Skinner

Fans in a live crowd put their hands in their air on a blue sky day
Glastonbury Festival (Picture: Alamy)

Concerns are growing within the UK music industry over the government’s £800million insurance scheme for live events and festivals.

The UK Live Events Reinsurance Scheme was announced in August, and is due to run until September 30, 2022. It sees the government acting as a “reinsurer”, aiming to “give events the confidence they need to plan through to summer 2022” amid the ongoing COVID pandemic.

It is in place to protect shows and festivals that are impacted “due to new UK Civil Authority restrictions in response to COVID-19”. However, it was confirmed last month that the scheme “does not cover self-isolation” of touring musicians and their crew. Additionally, it doesn’t include “loss of revenue prompted by lower demand for tickets or venue capacity”.

Outlining the rules, the government wrote: “The scheme will cover a limited series, or run, of linked events, provided that the event organiser specifies which event dates from that limited series, or run, require cover and how much cover they are purchasing for each.”

Speaking to IQ,  the chief executive of the Association Of Independent Festivals (AIF), Paul Reed, explained that the scheme does not cover “a festival needing to reduce capacity or cancel due to restrictions being reintroduced”.

“It’s clear from the government’s winter ‘plan B’ that restrictions will be reintroduced long before there is any sort of national lockdown,” he added.

“The scheme only covers you in the event of a civil authority shutdown at either local or national level, so it is extremely limited in scope.”

Reed went on to explain that 58 per cent of AIF members were “not likely” to pursue a quote, with just five per cent saying it was “very likely”. Twenty-one per cent of those surveyed selected “likely” while the remainder said they were “unsure”.

“That isn’t indicative that the scheme is going to be widely used by the sector,” he said.

“At the moment, you can’t obtain actual quotes, so that’s another issue. Until this is properly in play, we won’t know the full extent of these issues and whether it is a viable scheme or not. So they need to get on with it and get it in a position where it can be rolled out properly.”

Reed acknowledged there are still details being ironed out by the government, and that “the scheme could well change in some ways”. (It was said last month that the scheme would be reviewed “periodically” in order to continue support for live events).

“But I think the fundamentals aren’t going to change and it’s not going to cover anything other than some sort of shutdown – that’s basically a trigger point that the government has agreed with the insurance industry,” Reed continued.

More than half of UK festivals were forced to cancel their 2021 editions this summer due to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. Various artists also shelved planned performances after they or someone in their team contracted COVID.