EXCL Labour warns scores of small music venues will close over 'rocketing' tax rates
Scores of live music venues face closure unless ministers step in to slash their soaring tax bills, Labour has warned.
Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson said grassroots venues offer a spotlight for new talent but warned “many of those stages will be going dark for good” without action to cut the amount of money they need to pay the Government.
New figures unearthed by Labour on the eve of the 2019 Brit Awards found the taxable property value of small venues in England soared by more than £8,000 on average between 2010 and 2017.
The party looked at the 179 small venues for which data was available and found rateable values - which help determine their business tax rates - had risen for more than half.
Among those that had faced hikes, the average rise was more than £17,000 or a whopping 43%.
One venue, The Flapper in Birmingham, saw its rateable value increase by £40,000 or 121%, while The Grapes in Sheffield saw saw a rise of more than £10,000 or 103%.
The worrying figures come after it emerged 35% of grassroots music venues were forced to close over the last decade.
Mr Watson called on the Government to extend the business rates relief for pubs, restaurants and bars to small venues in a last-ditch bid to stem the flow of closures.
“Rocketing business rates mean that many music venues are facing closure,” the deputy Labour leader told PoliticsHome.
“That’s why I’m joining the music industry in calling for the extension of business rate relief to live music venues.
“Over a third of grassroots live music venues have closed over the last ten years, and now many are facing insurmountable business rate costs.”
He added: “This year’s Brit Awards will showcase the best of our music talent. It’s on our grassroots music stages that new talent finds the spotlight.
“This Government should intervene to protect live music venues, or many of those stages will be going dark for good.”
Higher business taxes for venues get phased in pver time to prevent a sudden hike for vulnerable establishments.
Labour argues 129 of the venues it analysed would end up below the £51,000 threshold to qualify as a small business if the tax relief was extended to cover them.