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Entertainment industry reacts to autumn statement

T

he Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has said the autumn statement does not go far enough and lacks clarity, as entertainment trade bodies and industry groups react to the Chancellor’s announcement.

Jeremy Hunt delivered his autumn statement to MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday, during which he said he was having to make difficult decisions to ensure a “shallower downturn”, but the economy was still expected to shrink 1.4% in 2023.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA, a trade body representing UK business in the night-time economy said: “This Government is guilty of neglecting thousands of businesses and millions of employees and freelancers across the night-time economy, this budget has not gone far enough and still lacks clarity and will without doubt see a huge swathe of SMEs and independent businesses disappear in the coming months.

“When businesses should be preparing for the busiest period of the year, they are now having to consider their future, and will remember the fourth failed attempt to deliver a budget to safeguard businesses at the sharpest end of the crisis.

“There is no consideration for the human impact, this will have a devastating effect on not only business owners, but the individuals and families who have committed their lives and livelihoods to this sector.”

Meanwhile, Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, warned that following the autumn statement entertainment venues may close faster than they had during the pandemic.

He tweeted: “Operators are being squeezed beyond their ability, and I fear we will now see huge cuts in staffing, reductions in opening hours and venues closing at a faster rate faster than seen during the pandemic. It is a very sad state of affairs.

“We will now see a downturn in consumer spending over the coming weeks and months, at a time when operators need the most support as they recover from the hangover of pandemic related debt.

“Disposable income underpins the UK economy and I’m hugely concerned that the policies outlined today will create a severe contraction in the sector. Spending on luxuries such as dining out, is naturally the first to go in times of cutbacks.”

Jon Collins, chief executive of Live, said the Chancellor’s autumn statement “has offered little help” to the live music industry.

The industry group represents the interests of the sector, uniting the 14 main live music associations and representing more than 4,000 artists.

Following the announcement, Collins said: “While we welcome the Government’s desire to bring stability to the UK economy, today has offered little help to secure the future of our £4.5 billion industry and the 200,000 people it employs.

“Unprecedented operating conditions are pushing our sector to the brink, as much-loved venues close their doors, tours are cancelled, and artists drop out of the industry.

“The pandemic hangover combined with the increased cost of living has led to 54% of people stating they are less disposed to attending live entertainment, putting incredible pressure on the live music sector.

“Today, we renew our call for a reintroduction of a lower VAT rate on ticket sales to inject cash into the bottom line of struggling businesses, bring us in line with many other European countries, and secure the future of live music for all.”

Responding to the autumn statement, Paul Pacifico, chief executive of the Association of Independent Music, called for investment in the next generation of creatives.

He said: “AIM welcomes the Government’s proposed tax cut on businesses rates, but with small independent businesses increasingly squeezed by rising costs, UK music stands to suffer unless we create greater incentive for investing in the next generation of creative and entrepreneurial talent.

“While we understand the need to cut costs in today’s budget, we call on the Government to give serious consideration to measures to support the future of the sector in the spring statement.

“For example, extending creative industry tax reliefs to cover British music could play a vital role in encouraging investment and maintaining a healthy music ecosystem.”

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