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UK Music cautiously welcomes Chancellor’s statement of business rates, though still not entirely clear how music venues will be affected

By | Published on Thursday 9 March 2017

Houses Of Parliament

So it was the British government’s big budget bash yesterday, the parliamentary gig where Theresa Mayhem’s best bud Phil Hammond takes to the stage and convinces the nation that Brexit isn’t going to spectacularly fuck up the country’s finances, thanks to his strategy of sufficiently shafting the NHS so that all the poor people will die off. Good times.

But what about those plans to overhaul business rates which could hike up the bills faced by city centre grassroots music venues already operating on a tiny slither of a profit margin? As previously reported, earlier this week the people behind today’s Live Music Census raised concerns about the impact the business rate changes could have on music venues, while cross-sector trade group UK Music wrote to Hammond to air similar concerns last week.

Having listened very carefully to all of Hammond’s budget ramblings yesterday, UK Music said that there was a glimmer of hope in the Chancellor Of The Exchequer’s speech that grassroots music venues could be protected from too big a negative impact from the business rate reforms, though there remain ambiguities.

Responding to Hammond’s statement on business rates, UK Music boss Jo Dipple said: “UK Music welcomes the commitment to wider reform of business rates before the next revaluation and the pledge to establish the discretionary relief fund. But the government must set out the exact formula for this relief and the timeframe for rate reform at the earliest opportunity to give confidence to music businesses affected by rate increases”.

Noting one of the relief measures Hammond revealed, Dipple added: “A discount for pubs is potentially good news, but it is unclear as to whether this will apply to music venues too. We seek assurances from the government that this will indeed help out the hardest-hit music venues”.

Here ends CMU’s budget report. I didn’t actually watch the budget speech. I’ve generally stopped watching the news, it’s too depressing. I just listen to the ‘Channel 4 News’ theme tune three times a day instead.