£750m Covid insurance scheme to save live events — but industry says it’s too little, too late

‘The government has dithered, delayed and come up with a solution that doesn’t address the problem’ says Labour

Eleanor Sly
Friday 06 August 2021 00:30
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<p>The live events sector is worth more than £70 billion annually to the UK economy</p>

The live events sector is worth more than £70 billion annually to the UK economy

Live events are to be helped by a government-backed £750m insurance scheme to reduce Covid cancellations, but industry leaders say it’s too late to save many events and Labour said the scheme was the “bare minimum.”

Industry figures have been calling for such a scheme to help plan events without the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak leaving them out of pocket.

The government says it has partnered with Lloyd’s to deliver the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme as part of the Treasury’s Plan for Jobs.

But Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) chief executive Paul Reed said the scheme does not cover events that could be hit by the reintroduction of social distancing rules.

“We are pleased that government has listened, and we welcome this intervention to address the insurance market failure,” he said.

“The scheme doesn’t, however, cover a festival needing to reduce capacity or cancel due to social distancing restrictions being reintroduced, so it remains imperative that government continues to work with the sector in areas such as Covid certification to try and avoid such an eventuality and ensure that organisers can plan with increased confidence for 2022.”

Labour’s shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said the plan was the “bare minimum”.

“Anything less than lockdown, like the reintroduction of social distancing or artists or crew having to self-isolate, isn’t covered,” he said.

“Yet again the government has dithered, delayed and come up with a solution that doesn’t address the problem. Under this scheme, the government essentially takes no risk and the live events sector carries it all.”

Meanwhile, the chief executive of Live, Greg Parmley, an organisation representing the interests of those in the live music business, also welcomed the announcement. He explained that his organisation has “been calling for since the start of the pandemic”.

“We look forward to working together over the coming weeks to determine the final shape of the policy and to ensure it can support the full return of the sector in the face of the most likely impacts of Covid.”

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, the chief executive of UK Music, said“The inability to obtain insurance has already caused many cancellations this summer – these have been devastating for the entire music industry and there were fears that without action we would have seen major cancellations continuing well into next year too.”

Chairman of the Concert Promoters Association, Phil Bowdery, said that although the insurance scheme “won’t cover all our risk, this intervention will help protect the industry that we all know and love”.

“This is welcome news from DCMS. The sector has been calling out for the government to act for over a year and now we have something tangible,” he added.

Chair of the DCMS Committee, Julian Knight, also welcomed the move, saying: “It is really welcome that the government has acted on a key recommendation from our inquiry into the future of UK music festivals,” he said.

“We have been calling on ministers to introduce this safety net since January.

“Though it is a shame that it has come too late for some this summer, this scheme will provide the confidence the sector needs to plan and invest in future events.”

According to the Treasury., the live events sector is worth more than £70 billion annually to the economy. It also supports more than 700,000 jobs.

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