The Government are committed to supporting our grassroots music venues, the lifeblood of our world-leading music sector. Arts Council England has extended its Supporting Grassroots Live Music fund until 31 March 2023. During the pandemic, venues benefited from the cultural recovery fund; we are also supporting venues through the energy bills support scheme and will continue to do so through the energy bills discount scheme until spring 2024.
I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. With Independent Venue Week coming up next week, I pay particular tribute to Big Jeff, the best ambassador for grassroots music venues anyone could ever want, who is finally getting back out on the gig circuit after his terrible accident last year—thank you for indulging me on that, Mr Speaker. The sector is on a knife edge, sustained by a 0.2% profit margin. As I understand it —although the Minister may want to correct me, considering the answer he has just given—it is not included in the support for energy bills from 1 April. Will the Minister, if he does not have good news for me today, take that up with the Treasury as a matter of urgency, because it could be energy bills that finally push many independent music venues over the edge?
I thank the hon. Lady and congratulate Big Jeff on all the work that he is obviously doing in the sector. We will certainly reflect on that. I think that the new energy scheme strikes the balance between supporting businesses over the next 12 months and limiting taxpayers’ exposure to volatile energy markets, and there is a cap based on estimated volumes. It is really important that we support music venues, hospitality and wider community venues to the benefit of our community and the amazing creative sector.