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Mini-budget is a “missed opportunity” for live venues, says the MVT

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng outlined the new mini-budget today

By Nick Reilly

Pexels shot of a crowd at a gig
(Photo: Pexels)

The UK government’s mini-budget announcement has been described as a “missed opportunity” for independent music venues across the UK.

It comes after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng outlined a string of tax cuts and new economic changes in the commons.

Outlining steps to tackle the energy crisis this morning, Kwarteng discussed the Energy Bill Relief Scheme – which was announced earlier this week in a bid to “reduce wholesale gas and electricity prices”.

Kwarteng said of the new measure: “This will provide a price guarantee equivalent to the one provided for households.”

While the scheme was warmly welcomed by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) earlier this week, CEO Mark Davyd says the rest of today’s budget failed to sufficiently tackle the demands of venues weathering the storm of post-Covid survival.

“The Energy Bill Relief Scheme has the potential to effectively tackle the short term effects of the energy crisis, but the rest of the budget feels like a missed opportunity,” he told Rolling Stone UK.

“There are a number of measures the government could take to support the live music industry as it tries to recover from Covid, particularly around VAT and business rates, both of which are pre-profit taxation. They’re eating into profit margins. This budget is a bit of a wash-out when it comes to progress for live music.”

Davyd added in a separate statement: “Outside of those measures, this is a budget aimed at big business and large scale companies, with a focus on enabling them to keep more of their profit post tax. We hope that multiple opportunities to support small and medium enterprises by addressing pre-profit taxation, particularly VAT and Business Rates, will be forthcoming in the Autumn Statement.”

The new energy scheme will provide discounts for all firms for a six-month period from October 1. Prices will be fixed at 21.1p per kilowatt hours (kWh) for electricity and 7.5p per KWh for gas.

The discount will automatically be applied to bills for all companies.

Other significant steps taken by Kwarteng include a cut in the basic rate of income tax to 19 per cent from April 2023, alongside a reversal of the recent increase in National Insurance from November 6. Additionally, the government has also scrapped the rise in Corporation Tax (from 19 per cent to 25 percent), which had been due next April.

In addition to Davyd’s comments, Michael, Kill CEO of Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said he was “extremely disappointed” with the contents of the Chancellor’s speech.

“It will be seen as a missed opportunity to support businesses that have been hardest hit during this crisis, causing considerable anxiety, anger and frustration across the sector as once again they feel that many will have been left out in the cold,” Kill said.

“We have been extremely clear with the government that the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, even with the announcement of the limited tax cuts on National Insurance, Corporation Tax and Duty, is unlikely to be enough to ensure businesses have the financial headroom to survive the winter, especially with yesterday’s announcement of the rise in interest rates from the Bank of England.”

He also urged the Chancellor to “re-evaluate the inclusion of general business rates relief and the reduction of VAT within these measures”.

The government is yet to respond to the criticism.