finance

Festivals 'at risk of cancellation' without government insurance support



Summer festivals will not go ahead if the UK Government does not fix insurance issues for the live events industry, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have warned.

Jamie Stone MP, the party’s digital, culture, media and sport spokesperson, criticised Westminster’s continued failure to support live events by not introducing Covid-19 cancellation insurance.

Live events organisers are currently unable to get cover on the commercial insurance market, meaning many events will not be able to go ahead, despite changes in the route map out of the coronavirus crisis.

The Association of Independent Festivals found that 92.5% of its members felt insurance was a prerequisite for going ahead.

A government-backed insurance scheme could provide the same certainty that has already been provided to the film sector through the £500m Film Restart Scheme.

Austria and Sweden have insurance schemes backed by their governments, with funds of €292m and €300m respectively.

Stone said: “Without insurance, 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.

“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.

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“The only hope for a successful reopening is a government-backed insurance scheme.

“The government already has a scheme like this in place for terrorism losses, so the knowledge and expertise is there; all they have to do is replicate this model for live events ahead of the summer.”

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