One Closure Per Week: UK Grassroots Venues In Need Of Relief

Novelist Performs at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Novelist performs at Brudenell Social Club, Jan. 31, 2019 in Leeds, UK. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

The UK’s Music Venue Trust (MVT) is calling on government to extend its business rates relief for the sector, following the results of MVT’s annual survey, which found that “closures are currently taking place at a rate of more than one week,” according to a press release sent out by the non-profit.

Following lobbying by MVT and others the government created a 50% rate relief specific to grassroots music venues in January 2020. In March 2020, the rate was zero for the entire retail, hospitality, and leisure sector to help them trough lockdown.

Further concessions were then extended across these sectors in 2021, 2022, and 2023, and, according to MVT, grassroots venues are therefore currently enjoying a 75% business rate relief.

These reliefs are to end in April 2024, which would impose an additional £15 million ($18 million) of costs on the sector, according to MVT’s calculations.

See: Music Venue Trust Makes Five Key Appointments In UK

The organization stated, “pleas are being made to the UK Government to extend the current arrangements and to carry out a radical reform of the business rates to prevent a further decline of the GMV sector, which according to the organization’s recent annual survey saw 78 venues permanently close in the last 12 months at a rate of more than one a week.”

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust said, “The current business rates system is anachronistic, inconsistent, and outdated and fails to meet the principles of good tax design. The UK Government is currently conducting a consultation on wider reforms but the solutions they have so far proposed are in no way radical enough to redress fundamental inequalities that will lead to many more venue closures.

“We are already losing GMVs at a catastrophic rate, which has had a knock-on effect of 4,000 jobs losses, the removal of 14,250 live music events, and 193,230 performance opportunities for musicians, £9 million [$11 million] of musician income and £59 million [$72 million] of economic activity. By extending business rates relief past next April the government could throw a vital lifeline to GMV’s already holding onto survival by their fingertips.”

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