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UK festivals at ‘critical’ point unless government offers VAT reduction

UK festivals are under serious threat unless a VAT reduction is introduced, the new reports warns.

By Nick Reilly

Shot of festival crowd
(Photo: Moses/Wikimedia Commons)

Music festivals across the UK will reach a “critical” point unless they are granted a VAT reduction from the government, a new report warns.

The new findings come courtesy of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) – the trade body which represents the interests and concerns of 101 festivals across the UK. In their latest report, they say that festivals across the UK could be lost forever if a government intervention is not given.

The research cites the cancellation of 36 festivals in the UK last year due to economic pressures such as costs and ticket sales. That trend looks set to continue into 2024, with Bristol’s NASS festival and Gloucestershire’s Barn On The Farm among the events that have confirmed they will not return this year.

In light of the threat, the AIF has now launched the ‘5% For Festivals’ campaign , which aims to enlighten festival-goers about the pressures faced by festival promoters and encourage them to contact their MPs to push for a VAT reduction on tickets.

In addition, a new website which you can access here outlines the problems in full and provides music fans with the means to contact their MPs about the issue.

“We really are at a critical point for the UK’s festival sector. Five years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine that promoters would have to endure something as damaging as the Covid-19 pandemic – but many of them did, without passing the inevitable cost onto the consumer,” said AIF CEO John Rostron.

“UK festivals need time to recover and rebuild. They need help from our Government. A reduction in VAT on festival tickets from 20% to 5% for three years is an evidence-based, simple, sensible remedy that would ease the financial burden on promoters enough for them to return to health. We need this action now.”