The UK Government has told live events operators that it will only consider introducing a public sector-backed insurance scheme if they can demonstrate that a lack of commercially available products is the “only barrier” to them staging events.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage, responding to a letter from Theresa Villiers MP, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Events, said the bar for considering Government intervention is set “extremely high,” and added that this was especially true “in light of recent announcements including the considerable extension to the furlough scheme and local business support.”

Villiers had written to Dinenage in December enquiring about how the TV production industry had achieved a similar Restart Scheme. In the response, Dinenage said on March 1 that the TV industry had provided clear evidence of a market failure around insurance coverage and submitted evidence that an indemnity scheme was the last barrier to the resumption of economic activity.

Dinenage said that the events industry, which has been shuttered since March 2020 due to COVID-19, must provide “robust evidence” to indicate how a government-backed insurance scheme is the only option to restart events.

Dinenage said: “The evidence of market failure specific to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport sectors must be clearly demonstrated, and robust evidence must be provided that insurance is the only barrier to staging events.

“The Government would also want to be sure that any investment or intervention would lead to an increase in activity. At the moment, for example, clearly social distancing will remain a key barrier to activity for some time in certain sectors.”

Many live industry bodies have been pushing for a Government-backed cancellation insurance scheme, with The Let the Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 report from UK Music stating that the lack of insurance is the biggest barrier to major events happening in 2021.

Under current government plans, events cannot be held as normal before June 21 at the earliest, and any restrictions imposed on this reopening will not be confirmed until after pilot events have been assessed.