Liberal Democrats warn that Summer Festivals will not go ahead if the UK Government does not fix insurance issues for the live events industry.
Following the Prime Minister's announcement that lockdown will be extended, the Liberal Democrats have criticised the UK Government's continued failure to support live events organisers by not introducing COVID cancellation insurance. Live events organisers are currently unable to find cover on the commercial insurance market meaning many live events will not be able to go ahead regardless of changes in the roadmap.
The Association of Independent Festivals found that 92.5% of their members felt insurance was a prerequisite of going ahead. A Government backed insurance scheme could provide the same certainty that has already been provided to the film sector through the £500 million Film Restart Scheme and to events in Austria and Sweden by their Governments’ €292 million and €300 million insurance schemes.
Criticising the Government's refusal to support the Live Events industry, Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western Alex Cole-Hamilton said:
"Having insurance cover is absolutely key and without it many festivals and live events will be forced to cancel, even if the virus no longer poses a risk to attendees. Organisers are now warning that this hit to the industry – which is expected to see further festival cancellations in the coming weeks – will create a bigger gap in the UK’s ravaged public finances. Here in Edinburgh so many industries have suffered greatly, the live events themselves and the hospitality alongside it. Whilst the main festival will not be going ahead this year there are hopes for smaller festivals.
"As well as missing out on significant tax revenues, the Treasury faces footing the bill for mass job losses and the continuing cost of furlough to the affected sectors, which include weddings, conferences and exhibitions alongside live music.
"The only hope for a successful reopening is a Government-backed insurance scheme, like we’ve seen elsewhere in Europe. The Government already has a scheme like this in place for terrorism losses. The knowledge and expertise is there; all they have to do is replicate this model for live events ahead of the summer."
Tim Thornhill, Director at insurance brokerage Tysers, said:
“There will be no incentive at all for private insurance market to step in at an appropriate level for event organisers in the next 12-18 months. It will be too limited and too expensive. Therefore, the need for government intervention is immediate; to safeguard jobs, businesses and the cultural fabric of the UK. We are ready and willing to work with the UK government to save these sectors, but time is of the essence.”
Responding to the Prime Minister's decision to delay lockdown in England, UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said:
“This delay is catastrophic for the live music industry – not just for the millions of fans who are desperate to get back to gigs and concerts, but for the event organisers, the venues, and the thousands of musicians and support staff whose jobs and livelihoods are now at risk.”