Following the Government announcement today, 21 September, that it will freeze gas and electricity prices for companies for six months from 1 October, as part of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, the live events industry has called for more sustained support to prevent businesses suffering irreparable financial damage.
For all non-domestic energy customers, wholesale prices are expected to be fixed at £211 per MWh for electricity and £75 per MWh for gas from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023. The savings will be first seen in October bills, which are typically received in November. Non-domestic customers on existing fixed price contracts will be eligible for support as long as the contract was agreed on or after 1 April 2022.
The Government said the scheme will be reviewed after three months, and additional support may be given to “vulnerable businesses”, although it is not known which business sectors would fall into that category.
LIVE CEO Jon Collins said, “We welcome this support from Government, but we are clear that this needs to be sustained past the next six months. Spiralling energy prices have already forced music venues up and down the country to close or curtail their programming and this will begin again as soon as this support is removed – it is plainly obvious that live music must be on the list of sectors considered vulnerable by Government.
“With our industry still hurting from the aftereffects of Covid and rising costs across the supply chain, we continue to make the case that our sector needs action on VAT and business rates if we are to keep all concert halls, arenas, festivals, and grassroots music venues open, bringing joy to millions and showcasing the best UK and international talent.”
Music Venue Trust (MVT) CEO Mark Davyd said the planned fixed base rate is sufficient to avert the collapse of the grassroots venue sector and that it should be implemented as a maximum for all music venues in the UK.
He said MVT has requested Government work with the trust on long-term plans to secure affordable, sustainable and resilient energy for the sector: “There is a big opportunity presented by this crisis to support a radical intervention into energy supply and demand, and we strongly urge the Government to use the period of protected energy prices to bring forward plans to permanently tackle the causes of the energy crisis. Music venue real estate is a prime candidate for renewable energy investment, and we look forward to working with the announced Energy Supply Taskforce to realise that opportunity”
The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill raised concerns that the scheme will exclude businesses that renewed before 1 April, and he suggested the plans would do nothing to alleviate the high levels of energy supply debt incurred by businesses exposed to uncapped pricing over the last few quarters. He said it is unlikely to be enough to ensure businesses have the financial headroom to survive this winter.
“If we are to ensure the survival of our sector it remains imperative that the short-term relief announced today is extended to 12 months and followed up with further action by the Government in the budget this Friday, and that such action must incorporate our core asks, specifically business rates relief and a reduction in VAT across the board,” said Kill.
Prime minister Liz Truss said, “I understand the huge pressure businesses, charities and public sector organisations are facing with their energy bills, which is why we are taking immediate action to support them over the winter and protect jobs and livelihoods.
“As we are doing for consumers, our new scheme will keep their energy bills down from October, providing certainty and peace of mind.
“At the same time, we are boosting Britain’s homegrown energy supply so we fix the root cause of the issues we are facing and ensure greater energy security for us all.”
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