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ISM responds to the Chancellor's Spring Budget

The ISM welcomes the announcement in today's Spring Budget from the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt that the government will extend Orchestra Tax Relief for two years. This is a much-needed measure that the ISM and many others in the music sector have been calling for. Overall, however, the budget provides little targeted support for the arts sector, with no mention of the Arts Premium that was promised for schools in the Conservatives' 2019 election manifesto, or help with energy bills for music venues.

Responding to the budget, ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said, ‘It is welcome that the Chancellor has listened to the ISM and many others in the sector and extended Orchestra Tax Relief for a further two years. This decision will help our classical music sector in the years ahead.

'The Chancellor missed the opportunity to deliver the Arts Pupil Premium that is desperately required to support music education in schools. The calls from venues for support to help them with spiralling costs have gone unanswered today.

This budget will ultimately be judged by musicians on whether it helps to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and allows our music institutions to thrive. The Chancellor has said that he wants the creative industries to be a driver of economic growth. In order to achieve this ambition his budget should have gone further and provided more targeted support for music.’

Key points for musicians in the Spring Budget

The Spring Budget offers the following measures for the arts sector:

  • Orchestra Tax Relief of 50% has been extended for another two years. However, the qualifying expenditure is now limited to ‘expenditure on goods and services that are used or consumed in the UK’, disqualifying orchestras from claiming relief on expenditure within the EEA from 1 April 2024
  • The Edinburgh Festival has been awarded an £8.6 million funding boost

Other measures announced in the Spring Budget include:

  • Government help with energy bills is being extended for another three months, limiting the average bill to £2,500 per year, but the £400 winter fuel payment will not be renewed, meaning that costs will still rise for households in the short term
  • Support for businesses' energy bills will be reduced from April 2023, with firms receiving a discount on wholesale prices when energy bills are high, rather than costs being capped as at present. This will impact music venues and other music businesses, which are already struggling with inflation and the cost-of-living crisis
  • Free childcare of 30 hours a week will be available for all pre-school children over nine months in England, but will only be fully implemented by September 2025 and only applies if both parents are working
  • Families on Universal Credit will receive childcare support up front instead of in arrears, and the cap has been raised to £951 per month per child
  • Fuel duty has been frozen for another year
  • Alcohol taxes will rise in line with inflation from August, but there are new reliefs for beer, cider and wine sold in pubs