UK Gov’s Music Outline

The UK government’s plan to reduce the licensing requirements of small venues is subject to a study of any bad effects it may have, but in his Budget Speech March 22 chancellor George Osborne repeated his support for the idea and made other promises to help the music industry.

One of the main ones was to support a Creative Industries Council, which would “provide a voice for the sector with the financial community and coordinate action on barriers to growth.”

As well as helping with access to finance, the proposed council would also look at other issues relating to skills, export markets, regulation, Internet protocol and infrastructure.

“Given our nation’s increased economic dependence on intellectual property and other intangible products, I am optimistic that today’s announcement will ensure creative businesses receive similar support to other industrial sectors,” said UK Music chief Feargal Sharkey, whose organisation has campaigned for the establishment of such a body.

Announced as part of the government’s Plan For Growth, other measures included a UK Trade & Industry marketing initiative to promote opportunities for investment in the UK digital and creative industries sector.

The UKTI, which supported the 140 UK acts that attended this year’s South by Southwest in the U.S., will be further encouraged to develop its relationship with the music industry.

Osborne has also promised action on establishing a network of attachés covering key global markets such as China and India, the delivery of a package to support the UK’s broadband digital infrastructure, improving the stock of skills in the digital and creative industries, and substantially reducing the burden placed on business by the communications and media regulatory framework.

A key issue that didn’t make it on to Osborne’s 12-point plan was low value consignment relief, which allows retailers to exploit a tax loop hole when shipping product from overseas.

LVCR is an optional VAT relief designed to speed up the transit of low-value goods through the mail that might otherwise be delayed by customs and also reduce the cost of tax collection where it might not be practicable. Online retailers benefit from the relief by shipping goods from such places as the Channel Islands.

The chancellor made direct reference to the adverse effect it’s having on High Street music stores but did no more than claim that it’s an issue he’ll be tackling in the near future.

The UK’s creative industries currently employ nearly 2 million people and account for 8.2 percent of gross domestic product. The UK music industry alone employs more than 120,000 people and has a turnover of £3.9 billion per annum.