Autumn Budget: Good news for music venues, but calls remain for more event support


October 28, 2021

Music venues are among the winners in the chancellor of the exchequer’s Autumn Budget, delivered 27 October.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced to the House of Commons that he is introducing a 50% business rates discount for retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, with eligible businesses able to claim a discount on their bills of up to a maximum of £110,000. While precise details of which businesses will be eligible, he singled out music venues as among those which would be able to avail the discount.

The chancellor also confirmed that the minimum wage will rise to £9.50 from £8.91 in 2022, and with that announced further funding for apprenticeships.

Domestic business travel within the UK received an economic boost as the chancellor announced a cut to Air Passenger Duty, making it cheaper to fly within the UK, although this has been met with opposition on the grounds of environmental impact.

While no specific measures were offered to the events industry, £7bn worth of transport funding was announced for areas including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and South Yorkshire for projects ranging from tram improvements to introducing “London-style” improvements in infrastructure.

“More support needed”

The Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), soon to be rebranded as BEAM, said that while some of the measures announced were positive, more needed to be done for the events industry specifically.

“Business rates discount and UK Air Passenger Duty are good news, but hard-pressed events businesses need more support,” said Simon Richards, treasurer of BEAM.

“The 12-month discount (up to £110,000) on business rates for hotels, pubs and leisure venues, the reduction in Air Passenger Duty on flights within the UK and the investment in transport infrastructure are valuable to the sector while the growth in the economy is encouraging.

“The news about expanding T Levels and apprenticeships is a potentially important contribution to help develop skills and encourage young people into the industry.

“But there was nothing that would directly help agencies and event service providers who don’t own properties and who are struggling to recover from the extensive impact of the pandemic.

“We called for Plan B4E to support businesses to cope with the impact of potential Plan B Covid restrictions. We also called for the reduced level of VAT paid by the sector to continue beyond April 2022 and are very disappointed that this was not in the Budget. We asked for the extension of the Kick Start scheme in terms of both application dates and end dates to encourage and help employers to retain new staff aged 18 to 24.

“If Plan B is implemented, then PlanB4E, the VAT reduction and extension of Kick Start would have been crucial to maintaining the survival of businesses and keeping many jobs.”

Business travel blues

Travel trade association UKinbound said that while the reduction in business rates and Air Passenger Duty was welcome, long haul flights carrying those from key markets would be negatively impacted.

Lauren Broughton, head of public affairs, UKinbound said: “We welcome the 50% business rate reduction for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, along with the new funding for local cultural and heritage sites and the promised investment in the UK’s transport infrastructure, all of which will positively impact the UK’s inbound tourism industry [a vital element of business events].

“While the reduction in domestic APD is a positive step, increasing APD on long-haul flights is a kick in the teeth to the UK’s third-largest export industry, which is only just beginning its recovery. Inbound tourism brings new money into regional economies, supports over 500,000 jobs across the country and will significantly aid the country’s economic recovery and Global Britain ambitions.

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