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Spring Statement ‘missed opportunity’ to support musicians says ISM

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has delivered his Spring Statement mini-budget to the House of Commons. The statement came against the backdrop of rising inflation and the fastest rising price increases for 30 years.

Despite the difficulties caused by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement did not provide targeted support for the music industry. There were no new initiatives to support creative freelancers beyond the changes to the point at which people start paying National Insurance. Many freelancers fell through the gaps of Government financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 cases are currently high, leaving freelance musicians who catch COVID-19 off work without sick pay to support them.

Disappointingly the Chancellor failed to abandon his planned VAT hike from 12.5% to 20% on ticket prices from April, which many in the industry had called for.

Headlines at a glance:

  • Failed to abandon plans to hike VAT on tickets from 12.5% to 20% in April
  • Fuel duty will be cut by 5p per litre until March 2023
  • The income threshold for at which point people start paying National Insurance will rise to £12,570 in July
  • From April, the Employment Allowance will increase from £4,000 to £5,000 for small businesses
  • The basic rate of income tax will be cut from 20% to 19% from April 2024. This applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland only

Responding, ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said:

‘As the music sector tries its hardest to recover from Brexit and COVID-19, the Chancellor’s budget is a missed opportunity to support musicians and the music industry at this crucial time.

New targeted financial support for musicians and a continuation of the VAT cut on ticket sales would have brought some welcome relief to musicians, who are facing the cost of living crisis like everybody else.

The changes to VAT will likely see ticket prices rise. The Chancellor should help musicians, venues and consumers by keeping VAT on tickets at 12.5% rather than raising it to 20%.’