Did the Spending Review deliver for live music? Here’s our verdict


Ahead of the Chancellor’s second full Budget of 2021, the live music sector had several key priorities: COVID recovery, VAT, easing the impacts of Brexit, and an insurance scheme that works. So where did we get to?

There was some good news for the sector with an additional £850m in culture sector funding, which includes music. The majority of this money is ring-fenced, but the rest should be available for the sector to apply for. Further detail of this will be provided in due course. 

In addition, the Government is introducing a new temporary business rates relief in England for eligible retail, hospitality, and leisure properties for 2022-23, worth almost £1.7 billion. It is also freezing the business rates multiplier in 2022-23, a tax cut worth £4.6 billion over the next five years. Both these measures have the potential for benefits across the sector.

Elsewhere, the Government has made some movement on tax relief, although these are largely applicable to theatres, museums and galleries – however, it will increase the headline rates of relief for Orchestra Tax Relief. Similarly, on COVID-19 recovery, the Government has committed to providing £52 million in new funding for museums and ‘cultural and sporting bodies’ next year to support recovery from COVID-19 and an additional £49 million in 2024-25. We wait to see whether music will be eligible for this funding. 

So, there was some good news. But a CTRL F on the budget document for music returns precisely zero results. Notably absent was any improvement to the beleaguered reinsurance scheme or the much called for an extension to the VAT break on tickets sales. There was also no cash allocated to help the sector deal with the impact of Brexit on touring. So, all in all, this year’s spending review feels slightly lacklustre in terms of support for the UK’s vibrant live music scene.

Here’s the verdict on the budget from Greg Parmley, CEO, LIVE:

“We’re glad to see that live music will receive some benefit from today’s Spending Review – including tax relief, business rates, and some extension in terms of funding.

 “However, with the word ‘music’ completely absent from today’s announcement, we remain steadfast in our drive to see Government pay attention to the key issues we are facing: the impacts of Brexit, the recovery from COVID and the long-term growth of the sector. We need Government to give us the tools to make progress, which were, unfortunately, missing from today’s news.”

A roundup of today’s commitments

Additional £850m in culture sector funding

Covid-19 recovery 

Business rates relief 

Business rates reform 


Tax relief 

VAT break on ticket sales

Departmental Budget