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AFO Response To The Spring Budget 2021

The chancellor appears to have heard our cry, in part.  We of course welcome the holding of 5% VAT on ticket sales to 30 September 2021 (assuming Festivals are included in Hospitality and Tourism).  We would have preferred the level to go on for three seasons but 5% now until 30 September 2021 and moving to 12.5% until April 2022 gives us a chance to sell 2022 tickets at the lower rate.  Not ideal for our rebuild, but still valuable.

We are also very pleased to see the Cultural Recovery Fund gets a boost of £300M.  We will no doubt hear more of how we apply through the Arts Council of England soon. Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales have been given a boost also.

The extension of Furlough is also welcome especially for those who were able to access it.  Once again there will be some sole traders and self-employed who for whatever reason will be left out so if you are fundraising to help those who are struggling you might look at “  We are disappointed that without Business Premises and without Business Tax Returns thousands of freelance festival staff will again fall down the cracks to survive on Universal Credit with its £20 per week extension.

For those with business premises you still have a payment holiday, and I can’t imagine anyone in our area of the industry making a fuss about corporation tax rises.

Prices at your festival bar will not have a duty hike and the same goes for the fuel to get you there (though we would still like you to use public transport).

AFO however still believes our industry needs a government backed insurance scheme to allow us to get back up and running in 2021.  Just how the government expect us to take all the risks ourselves is a mystery.  We will continue to campaign for this insurance support right up to the wire.  Without it we and the UK economy will lose most of our £13Bn contribution to that economy.

So, there are still two wars to fight.  Firstly COVID -19 and second the recognition that the UK festival industry is amongst the biggest contributors to the economy and should be given the real status it deserves.

Association of Festival Organisers (AFO): 3rd Mar 2021 14:59:00

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