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Covid-19: Support for Culture and Arts Sector

Volume 697: debated on Tuesday 22 June 2021

What assessment he has made of the adequacy of the support provided to the culture and arts sector during the covid-19 outbreak. (901593)

In March 2021, the Chancellor announced a further £300 million to build on the existing £1.57 billion of culture recovery fund support to protect our cultural sector. To date, more than £1.2 billion in grants has been paid.

The Minister is right, of course, to point out the unprecedented sums that have been given to the arts sector, and that is very welcome, but does he recognise that, particularly for the performing arts, the further four-week delay is crippling their future plans? As all the leading producers both in the west end and throughout the country point out, it takes months to get a show going, and uncertainty cripples that planning. Will he at least consider the calls from throughout the industry for a Government-backed insurance scheme to deal with cancellations if there is further uncertainty? There is a precedent in film and TV production that could readily be adapted. This is about getting them back working, which is actually want they want, rather than simply being subject to grants all the time. They want to get back on stage.

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the success of the film insurance scheme, which has protected over 45,000 jobs and £1.6 billion of spend. On the specific issue he raises, that is exactly why my right hon Friend the Chancellor announced the additional £300 million of support at the Budget. He anticipated the fact, in going long with that support, that there would be the risk of further delays to the covid row-back, so that was part of the announcement of an additional £300 million that he set out at the Budget.

The live events sector continues to be hard hit by covid-19. UK Music and We Make Events have called for additional financial support, an extension of the VAT reduction and Government-backed covid-19 cancellation insurance. Just now, it is impossible for those running concerts and festivals to plan, and some, including Kendal Calling, have had to postpone again until 2022. Can the Minister tell me why the UK Government have left this sector and the many thousands who work in it without the additional support they are calling for?

I fear that the question came before my previous answer. I had just mentioned the £300 million of additional support, over and above the £1.57 billion of support that has been announced. Indeed, the hon. Member frequently raises the plight of those individuals who have been hit, and again that is something we very much recognise. Again, however, that is why my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has set out the wider package of support, such as the time to pay arrangements, loans, business grants and the universal credit uplift. This is about looking at the totality of support within the £352 billion that my right hon. Friend has set out.