Rishi Sunak urged to scrap “damaging” VAT hike on ticket prices

Rishi Sunak has been urged to scrap a large VAT tax hike on concert and live event ticket prices.

READ MORE: No wonder Jacob Rees-Mogg hasn’t read NME: the Tories don’t care about saving UK music

The 7.5 per cent increase, which is set to kick in on April 1, comes ahead of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement on March 23 when he will outline a mini-Budget.

VAT is currently charged at 12.5 per cent on tickets for live events but Sunak is planning to restore the tax return to its pre-pandemic level of 20 per cent.

UK Music chief Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has written to the Chancellor ahead of the mini-Budget in a bid to get the tax hike scrapped.

“The planned hike in VAT could not come at a worse time for millions of music fans and the live music industry, which was shut down for almost two years due to the pandemic,” he wrote.

“Pushing up VAT to 20 per cent would be hugely damaging for the music industry and leave music fans facing a cost of gigging crisis. The rise would come at a time when we are rebuilding post-COVID-19, with hundreds of concerts planned over the next few months.”

Fans at Download 2021 CREDIT: Katja Ogrin/Getty Images

He continued, addressing Sunak: “We would urge the Chancellor to give people who already face rising prices and grim headlines every day a little lift by ditching the ticket tax and abandoning the VAT hike. Dumping the planned VAT hike would help keep ticket prices down for fans and help music businesses pay down debts they built up during the pandemic, generate thousands of new jobs and nurture new talent.

“It would help the music industry continue to recover and rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic, which wiped out around one in three jobs in our sector.”

UK Music has also called for a six-point plan including extending the current 50 per cent discount on business rates on music venues, and more funding to help British performers touring the EU to navigate extra costs and post-Brexit red tape.

UK Music is also calling for a Music Export Office to help boost sales of British music abroad, which dropped 23 per cent from £2.9billion in 2019 to £2.3billion in 2020 due to COVID-19.

It comes after live music industry leaders and insiders recently criticised the “clueless” UK government and opened up about the problems that remain for artists and crew wishing to tour in Europe, one year on from the feeling that the sector has been dealt a “No Deal Brexit”.

Raising the issue in the House Of Commons, Labour MP and DCMS Select Committee Member Kevin Brennan put it to Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative Leader of the House of Commons, that the government had not been active and engaged enough in helping overcome the remaining obstacles for live music on the continent and referred to our recent article about the ongoing frustration surrounding post-Brexit touring.

Rees-Mogg defended the government’s current stance and approach for artists wishing to tour the EU after Brexit and said that he had “not read the New Musical Express this morning, or indeed on any morning that I can ever recall.”

The post Rishi Sunak urged to scrap “damaging” VAT hike on ticket prices appeared first on NME.

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