UK Government Delays Business Rates Reform

Since the announcement that officials would look into applying business rates to festivals, the sector has been on edge. 

Association of Indepedent Festivals

An announcement regarding the overhaul, expected at this time of the year, was postponed to March 2016. The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) is part of a coalition of 720 events and festival organizers – among them Live Nation, UK Music and various live industry associations – lobbying for a sensible decision by the government.

They fear business rates will make it hard for many festivals to run a sustainable business, forcing them to shut down or move abroad. This would harm the overall economy, as UK Music, the trade body of the UK music sector and also part of the coalition, has pointed out.

AIF general manager Paul Reed says: “The recent imposition of business rates on festival land by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is already having far-reaching consequences, not only on the viability of festival and events but also on the rural landowners and communities that host them, and has the potential to reduce significantly the economic benefits festivals and events bring to rural areas.” Business rates were also tackled at this year’s Festival Congress in Cardiff Nov. 5-6).

Ian B. Sloan, who runs his own chartered surveying company, handed out some advice. “Rating goes on the land not the festival,” he said. He went on to explain that once the VOA’s officers are on site, “they are looking for anything that can be regarded a permanent structure. It’s amazing how you can hide permanent structures,” Sloan joked, urging the festival organizers to get in touch with him as soon as they hear from the VOA.