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Covid-19: Live Events Sector

Volume 700: debated on Thursday 16 September 2021

6. What steps her Department is taking to help the live events sector to return and recover from the covid-19 outbreak. (903481)

In July, we removed all restrictions, enabling audiences to return to live events. In August, the Government announced a live events reinsurance scheme worth £750 million, which will instil confidence and support events previously unable to obtain covid-19 cancellation insurance. DCMS has continued to support the events sector throughout the pandemic, including through the £2 billion culture recovery fund.

I warmly welcome the new Secretary of State. The live music sector has had an enormously challenging 18 months. Although I strongly welcome Government interventions such as the culture recovery fund and the live events reinsurance scheme, VAT on tickets for live events is set to double by the end of this month. As we all know, live music is not only essential to our economy, but plays a vital role in bringing us together after so many months of lockdown. As live events return, will the Government consider a permanent extension of VAT relief on music tickets to aid the sector’s recovery and to ensure that the show can go on?

I assure my hon. Friend that I will be working closely with the Chancellor to discuss the support required for the live events sector. The 5% rate on VAT for event tickets has been extended until 30 September 2021, when the 12.5% reduced rate will be introduced until March 2022. We have already provided £21 million to festivals and £2.5 million to grassroots music venues through the culture recovery fund, and our reinsurance scheme is designed to support the continuation of live events.

Has the Secretary of State any information on the take-up of that reinsurance scheme? Some promoters have said it is so inadequate, and covers such specific circumstances, that there is almost no point in taking it out. Was it always the Government’s intention to design a scheme in such a way that they could claim to be acting, while being safe in the knowledge that the scheme would not actually be used?

At this stage in my appointment, I am afraid I cannot give the hon. Gentleman an exact figure for the take-up, but I will write to him.