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Ahead of the Spring Budget on 6 March, UK Music has appealed to the Chancellor to support the music sector, including an extension on Orchestra Tax Relief.

Crowd at a rock concert

Yury Karamanenko

UK Music has urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to halve the VAT rate on gig tickets and introduce a range of other measures designed to support the music sector as part of next week's Spring Budget.

At 20%, ticket VAT in the UK is nearly double the EU average of 10.3% and is the third highest in Europe.

The organisation’s Interim Chief Executive, Tom Kiehl, said that halving ticket VAT would be a boost for both consumers and music professionals, giving local venues and economies across the UK “a much-needed shot in the arm”.


The appeal comes amid concern for the future of music venues, which remain under financial pressure due to elevated energy bills, the cost-of-living crisis and rising labour costs, which resulted in the closure of around 125 grassroots venues in 2023, according to Music Venue Trust.

In addition to a cut in VAT, UK Music has renewed calls to the government to help the sector with a range of issues, including education, touring, production and copyright, as well as a proposal to extend the current higher rate of Orchestra Tax Relief (OTR).

Introduced in 2016 at a rate of 25%, OTR was raised to 50% alongside Theatre Tax Relief in 2021 as part of temporary measures to help the culture sector recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic. OTR is due to drop to 35% next year and 25% in 2026, but the government has been urged, most recently by members of the House of Lords, to consider continuing the higher rate.

UK Music has also requested that government guarantee that the human voice is considered one of the eligible instruments for OTR so that choirs might benefit from extra financial support.

A vital lifeline

The organisation is also asking for the introduction of a tax credit to encourage new UK music production and a Cultural Touring Agreement with the EU. Additionally, it has called upon the government to commit to investing in music education and providing strong copyright standards for AI.
Kiehl said: “The UK has a world-leading music sector. However, it needs action from the government to ensure it can continue to grow for decades to come.

“Cutting VAT on tickets to 10% would be a vital lifeline and could mean the difference between saving and losing some of our most loved music venues, which are key parts of many local economies and communities.
“Venues are part of a wide music ecosystem, which needs support in a number of important areas to help the sector grow and thrive.

“We urgently need to see some action from the Chancellor in the budget to support the UK music industry at what is an immensely tough time for many venues and for those working in our sector."

A headshot of Mary Stone