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Industry leaders demand lower VAT rates remain in place for arts sector

Figures across the sector have sent a letter to the Chancellor

The Royal Exchange in Manchester
© University of Salford Press (CC BY 2.0)

Industry figures have united to demand that VAT rates remain low for ticket sales over the coming year.

In a letter sent to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of his March budget, a plethora of sector leaders pushed for the reduced five per cent VAT rate to be maintained (in lieu of the usual 20 per cent), due to the fact that the majority of businesses have yet to benefit from the initiative, as most have been unable to open for a large portion of the last six months (when rates were first lowered).

Chief executive of SOLT and UK Theatre Julian Bird said: "The theatre industry, alongside others in the performing arts and live events sector, was first into lockdown last March, and will almost definitely be one of the last out. With a usual annual audience of over 34m, generating around £1bn for the Treasury every year, the UK's theatres contribute hugely to the economic and cultural life of this country, and will be key for local recovery.

"It is vital that the Government helps ensure the industry's survival by continuing the reduced VAT rates."

The DCMS Select Committee even suggested a three-year extension to the five per cent VAT rate would be ideal for the sector. As many have pointed out, the creative industries were growing at an incredible pace – five times faster than the wider economy – before the pandemic struck.

Many within the arts have found themselves ineligible for sector-specific government support, such as the SEISS (self-employed income support scheme).

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