Autumn Statement: Venues see 75% business rates relief extended

Business rates relief for grassroots music venues in England has been extended for a further year by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

Announced in the Autumn Statement, the current 75% relief for eligible Retail, Hospitality and Leisure (RHL) properties is being extended for 2024-25. Hunt said around 230,000 properties will be eligible to receive support up to a cash cap of £110,000. In total, the tax cut is worth £2.4bn.

The extension is part of a support package worth £4.3bn over the next five years to support small businesses. The package also includes the freezing of the small business multiplier for a fourth consecutive year.

Hunt said rates relief for RHL properties ensures “the most vulnerable businesses continue to be supported”.

National Insurance paid by employees has been cut from 12% to 10%, taking effect from January. Hunt also made permanent a tax break for businesses that allows them to save on corporation tax by investing.

Relief extension worth £15m for grassroots venues

Music Venue Trust (MVT) welcomed the rates relief extension, saying the potential cancellation presented the possibility of an additional £15m in pre-profit taxation falling onto a Grassroots sector suffering a severe crisis.

Mark Davyd , CEO Music Venue Trust, said: “It was essential to keep this relief in place and we are pleased that our presentations to Treasury were listened to and acknowledged by this outcome. We hope that this further extension into 2025 for this relief will provide the necessary window of opportunity for the government to complete the full review of Business Rates on Grassroots Music Venues which it committed to in January 2019.”

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) also welcomed the rates relief extension, but said the Chancellor “has missed a crucial opportunity” to support businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises. The trade body argues that the government should have implemented substantial tax reductions required to ensure businesses can recover from the pandemic and survive the ‘cost-of-doing-business’ crisis.

NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said the rates relief saving will be swallowed up by the announced increase in the national living wage. NTIA was also hoping for a reduction of VAT to 12.5% for venues, events and festivals.

Kill said: “The absence of VAT measures in the Autumn Statement is a missed opportunity to spur investment and growth in the hospitality, night-time economy and creative sectors. A VAT reduction, along with thoughtful considerations for rising labour costs, would deliver much-needed relief and send a positive signal to businesses, elevating confidence and fostering an environment conducive to long-term planning.

“This budget is a stark reminder of the unwillingness to acknowledge the short-term economic challenges and emphasises the lack of operational business knowledge shared by budgetary and policy decision-makers.”

LIVE: This decision is ‘pivotal’

Jon Collins, CEO of LIVE, said: “LIVE welcomes the extension of the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure relief scheme for another year in today’s Autumn Statement which addresses a core ask of the LIVE Music Manifesto 2023. The UK’s live music industry is an engine of growth, generating £5.2bn in 2022 and employing over 228,000 people last year, with a gig held every four minutes.

“However, grassroots venues have been operating on a knife edge so it’s crucial that government continues to support this critical part of our sector with the right reliefs and funding mechanisms. The Government is committed to supporting growth and innovation across the creative industries. The extension of business rates relief will be pivotal for those grassroots venues that are responsible for so much of the R&D in the live music sector.”