| 11°C Belfast

UK Music calls for Government task force to support industry through pandemic

Chair Tom Watson said the industry ‘desperately’ needs clarity over its future.

Close

UK Music chair Tom Watson has called on the Government to set up a taskforce to support the industry (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

UK Music chair Tom Watson has called on the Government to set up a taskforce to support the industry (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

UK Music chair Tom Watson has called on the Government to set up a taskforce to support the industry (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Government should set up a task force to support the battered music industry through the coronavirus pandemic, UK Music has said.

The group, which represents record labels, songwriters and publishers, said Boris Johnson’s latest guidelines have added to the “uncertainty” surrounding the sector, which is reeling from the cancellation of live performances.

Tom Watson, UK Music chairman, warned quarantine restrictions on international arrivals could have a “drastic impact” on overseas tours and the ability of British musicians to travel.

Close

UK Music chair Tom Watson is calling for the formation of a Government task force to support the ailing industry (Gareth Fuller/PA)

UK Music chair Tom Watson is calling for the formation of a Government task force to support the ailing industry (Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA

UK Music chair Tom Watson is calling for the formation of a Government task force to support the ailing industry (Gareth Fuller/PA)

As part of its calls for the creation of a Government task force, the group wants politicians to provide a proposed date when the industry could consider reviving organised concerts, gigs and festivals.

“It is vital for promoters, musicians and music fans to have more visibility about the future so they can plan ahead,” UK Music said.

It also called for the Government to maintain support packages, including the furlough scheme and help for the self-employed, saying the measures are “crucial” while large parts of the industry cannot work.

And politicians should work with the entertainment retail sector “to establish clear protocols and guidance” to ensure record stores and instrument shops can be in the first wave of shops in June to return, UK Music said.

Mr Watson said: “The Government is right to try to move towards kickstarting our economy, provided it can ensure protecting public health is paramount at all times.

“However, these latest proposals on the easing of the coronavirus lockdown are missing the clarity that the UK music industry so desperately needs.

“There is a risk the British music industry will be left behind as other countries come out of lockdown. We cannot afford that to happen to the UK’s world-leading music industry which is really suffering.”

UK Music said the industry sustained more than 190,000 jobs and contributed a total of £5.2 billion a year to the UK economy before Covid-19 struck.

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “We are committed to supporting the UK’s world-class music industry in these challenging times through substantial financial measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention and Self-Employed Income Support Schemes, as well as business rates relief for music venues and the Bounce Back loan scheme.

“We are working closely with the industry to plan for the future as part of our recovery strategy.”

PA