Further support for the arts, culture and sports sectors was announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in his 2021 Budget in the House of Commons today (Wednesday March 3). Some of the broader details of what the Budget contained had already been leaked (which prompted an oblique dig at Boris from the Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle), including an extension of the government job protection furlough scheme until the end of September 2021. But there were crucial details for London’s arts and culture industries.
There will be £700m made available for the arts, culture and sport as venues are able to reopen as part of the roadmap out of lockdown.
There will be a £300m culture recovery fund, and £300m for sports clubs.
The existing £500m Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, launched last October, will be extended.
A further £150m is available to help communities take over pubs, theatres and sports clubs.
In broader measures, there will be a recovery loan scheme for which businesses can apply, from £25,000 up to £10m, and an increased cash incentive for businesses taking on apprentices of £3,000.
Alongside the extension of the job furlough scheme, self-employed support will also continue, with people whose turnover dropped by 30% or more eligible for the full 80% assistance. As this is a new tax year, this will also now apply to the newly self-employed.
There have been repeated calls across the arts and culture industry over the last year for more government support, with all areas of the sector badly affected, and many venues announcing they would be closing for good.
Sunak reiterated that this Budget was focused on ‘protecting, creating and supporting jobs’, and said that including his March 2020 Budget, delivered just hours before Lockdown 1.0, this round of measures brings the government’s total spend on Covid support to a massive £407 billion, with borrowing levels not seen since WWII. Whether it’s too little, too late for many of London’s most vulnerable venues and precariously employed workers remains to be seen. Let’s hope not.