Is your Grassroots Music Venue in trouble?

The Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Service will problem solve challenges that venues are experiencing by connecting venues with our team of industry experts.

GMV Crisis Fund

Music Venue Trust is calling on the music industry, cultural sector and the UK’s most successful musicians to come together to create a £1 million fighting fund to prevent the permanent closure of hundreds of Grassroots Music Venues across the UK.
To make a donation of more than £5000, please contact Beverley Whitrick – [email protected]

Support your local GMV now!



HM Government confirmed that all Grassroots Music Venues must be closed from Saturday 21 March until further notice.

MVT is offering sector support for Grassroots Music Venues (GMVs) to try and sustain them through the impacts of COVID-19. This takes five forms:

1. Surveys

  • MVT gathered data regularly from 9 March to 26 March (6 different national data sets) from Music Venues Alliance (MVA) members about the financial impacts of venue closure to best inform governments about the support needed to ensure they are sustained through this crisis and able to reopen. This data enables us to speak authoritatively and factually about the financial needs of GMVs

2. Information sharing

  • MVT continues to bring together and disseminate to MVA members the most current information about what they must do and what they can do to try and sustain their venue
  • MVT feeds into the international music industry picture and keeps track of trends

3. Representation

  • MVT makes sure that the needs of GMVs are raised as part of all music industry and cultural sector approaches for support from the governments of the UK
  • as the largest GMV membership body in Europe (Live DMA), MVT feeds into European information collecting and sharing

4. Fundraising

  • to support the entire sector, MVT launched the Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Fund, created to raise money from corporate giving and high net worth individuals
  • MVT continues to encourage individuals to support their local Grassroots Music Venue via crowdfunding campaigns and is working on the most effective ways of supporting this ongoing activity

5. Individual support for every Music Venues Alliance member

  • since the start of the crisis MVT has grown its team, appointing Regional and National Coordinators to work with the core team and reach out to every venue across the UK. The MVA Coordinators work through all of the potential avenues of support for venues, offering advice on how best to secure every venue’s finances (and listening to their concerns)
  • if these measures fail to secure the venue then they apply to the GMV Crisis Service for specialist expert advice and support



Support Announced by UK Government

The following is the latest information available of the various measures that are being made available by Government to support Grassroots Music Venues (GMVs) in England during the COVID-19 crisis. Many of these measures are UK-wide. For national variations, please see below.

In each case, this is the best information that Music Venue Trust has been able to acquire from government at this time. We are in contact with departments across government to ensure that as soon as additional advice on how to access this support becomes available we can deliver it to GMVs, together with instructions on how to qualify for it and access it.

We will continue to update each section with further guidance when we receive it from UK and national governments.

Scottish Government have announced a package of measures to support businesses in 2020/21, please click here for info.

Welsh Government have announced a package of measures to support businesses in 2020/21, please click here for info.

Northern Ireland’s Government have announced a package of measures to support businesses in 2020/21, please click here for info.

Across all nations of the UK, Music Venue Trust will continue to work with government to ensure that the entire sector, wherever located, is able to access a full range of support so that permanent closures are averted.



Help For You & Your Team

Wages/Salaries for Employees

The government has announced the creation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will run for at least 4 months from 1 March 2020 until at least 30 June. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will support GMVs to manage the wages/salaries of PAYE employees. Under this scheme HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs from the date you designated them as furloughed, up to a cap of £2,500 per worker per month. To access this scheme you will be required to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through the online portal here:

Who can be Furloughed:

Furloughed workers may include any individual registered for PAYE prior to 19 March 2020. This includes Directors paid by PAYE, including the venue owner/operator, and a salaried member of a Limited Liability Partnership. A furloughed worker will not be able to work for you as their employer. Furloughed workers may undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as they are not:

  • making money for your venue or a company linked or associated to your venue
  • providing services to your venue or a company linked or associated to your venue

What you’ll need to make a claim

To make a claim, you will need:

  • to be registered for PAYE online (if you are not currently registered for PAYE online you can register here:
  • your UK bank account number and sort code
  • your employer PAYE scheme reference number
  • the number of employees being furloughed
  • each employee’s National Insurance number
  • each employee’s payroll or employee number
  • the start date and end date of the claim
  • the full amount you’re claiming for including employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum pension contributions
  • your phone number

You also need to provide either:

  1. your Corporation Tax unique taxpayer reference
  2. your Self Assessment unique taxpayer reference
  3. your company registration number

How much you can claim for:
A calculator has been provided here:

We recommend using this calculator prior to starting the process to be clear about your dates and information.

You can claim for salaries from the date you furloughed a member of staff until the date of your claim plus 14 days. You will be able to make further claims in future for the same or alternative employees if necessary.

After you’ve claimed
Once you’ve claimed, you’ll get a claim reference number. HMRC will then check that your claim is correct and pay the claim amount by Bacs into your bank account within 6 working days.

You must:

  • keep a copy of the claim reference number for your records
  • keep a copy of your calculations in case HMRC need more information about your claim
  • tell your employees that you have made a claim and that they do not need to take any more action
  • pay your employee their wages, if you have not already


Statutory Sick Pay

The government will support small and medium-sized businesses and employers to cope with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related SSP by refunding eligible SSP costs. The eligibility criteria for the scheme are as follows:

  • this refund will be limited to two weeks per employee
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences, but should not require employees to provide a GP fit note
  • the eligible period for the scheme will commence from the day on which the regulations extending SSP to self-isolators come into force
  • while existing systems are not designed to facilitate such employer refunds for SSP, the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up a repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible



  • the government will pay self-employed people a taxable grant equivalent to 80% of their average income over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month per person, for at least three months
  • self-employed people who are eligible can apply directly to HMRC for the grant, using a simple online form; HMRC will then pay the grant straight into your bank account
  • the scheme will be open to those with income of £50,000 or less, who make the majority of their income from self-employment
  • the government expects payments to be made no later than 1 June 2020 and HMRC will work to advance this date
  • this scheme is limited to people who are already self-employed and have a tax return from 2019
  • if you have not filed your tax return for 2019, you have a four week window to now file that return and to qualify for this scheme

How to cover your living expenses until the date of payment:

  • the Coronavirus Business Loan Interruption Scheme is now open to self-employed people – contact your local bank to discuss an interest free loan for the period until this grant payment is made
  • the government has made changes to the welfare system so that self-employed people can immediately apply for Universal Credit in full. You can apply here:



Help To Manage Your Outgoings

Business Rates Reliefs

The government has announced that all Business Rates for all Grassroots Music Venues, regardless of size, will be zero rated for 2020-21.

Music Venue Trust has written to every Music Venues Alliance GMV in this category in England with details of how to ensure they receive this relief.

Scottish MVA members please click here for info.

Welsh MVA members please click here for info.

Northern Ireland MVA members please click here for info.


VAT and Income Tax Payments

The Government has announced that it will defer Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.


For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. All GMVs are eligible. This is an automatic deferment with no applications required. GMVs will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Income Tax

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. If you are self-employed you are eligible. This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.


Time to Pay

HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help those in need, and they may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. Time to Pay was successfully used in response to flooding and the financial crisis, giving businesses a time-limited deferral period on HMRC liabilities owed and a pre-agreed time period to pay these back. These tailored arrangements will give a business the time it needs to pay HMRC to support their recovery while operating through any temporary financial challenges that occur. HMRC will also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulties contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19.

You can learn more about Time to Pay HERE


Mortgage Relief

The Government has announced that Mortgage lenders have agreed they will support customers that are experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Covid-19, including through payment holidays of up to 3 months.


Licensing and Late Night Levies

The Institute of Licensing (IoL) have issued updated licensing guidance. This shows how local authorities can help premises that can’t afford to pay their annual licence and late night levy fees due to the coronavirus lockdown.

  • If a business can’t afford to pay their annual licence or late night levy fee, due to the coronavirus pandemic, they should notify their council
  • The local authority can use their discretion to defer the suspension of the licence to ‘some point in the distant future’, allowing the business time to recover
  • It is a convoluted mechanism without clear advice, but the guidance does exist and you may need to point your local authority towards it
  • It was set out by Home Office Minister Kit Malthouse in a letter to Local Authority Chairs of Licensing on 8 April


  • If you cannot afford to pay your licence or levy fee due to the coronavirus pandemic, notify your council ASAP
  • Request that, as per the guidance from Home Officer Minister Kit Malthouse of 8 April, the council defers suspension of your licence to a point in the future where you are confident you will have been able to pay your licence/levy fee

For reference, click here to see the relevant section from the IoL Guidance



Help With Cashflow

Interest Free Loans

The government announced the creation of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, which launched on Monday 23 March to support GMVs to access bank lending and overdrafts.

This is designed so businesses will be able to access the first 12 months of any loan interest free, as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments. The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website.

In mid April a new batch of lenders were introduced, including potential funders more experienced in cultural and social lending. Full information is available here:

Bounce Back Loans

The government has announced a new loan scheme which will launch on Monday 4 May.

Under the Bounce Back Loan scheme:

  • businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days
  • loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form
  • No repayments will be due during the first 12 months

Details of how to apply will be announced on Monday; application will be via a short and simple online form


Small Business Grant Funding

Smaller GMVs: If your Rateable Value is lower than £15,000 then you are eligible to apply for the Small Business Grant Fund. This fund will provide a non-repayable grant of £10,000 to around 700,000 businesses currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Small to Medium GMVs: If your Rateable Value is between £15,000 and £51,000 then you are eligible to apply for a grant (title to be announced). This fund will provide a non-repayable grant of £25,000 to help meet your ongoing business costs.

Local Authorities have been tasked with delivering these grants to you through a speedy process. There is no one single method of doing that; the range of methods includes simply paying money into your registered account without consultation through to an application process. You should check your account for the appropriate level of grant to confirm if you have received it. If you have not, you should contact your local authority to ask for details of how to receive it and when it will be paid.

Scottish Government have set-up an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19, please click here for info.

Welsh Government has announced a £100m grant scheme for small businesses, please click here for info.

Northern Ireland Government has announced a grant package scheme for small and medium sized businesses please click here for info.



This remains a complicated issue: the Government announced that its advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres etc. was sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance where they have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics in place. However, Music Venue Trust are not aware of any successful claim by a GMV to date. Our experts suggest that every GMV should:

  1. closely check your Insurance Policy for any Business Interruption Insurance and/or Prevention of Access Insurance
  2. if your venue has such cover, you must check that this specific area of your policy describes Communicable Diseases and/or Notifiable Diseases and/or Pandemics as a specific peril for which you are covered (please note that this does not ensure your claim will be successful but these are terms to look for: insurers are saying that Covid-19 is on not on the list of specified diseases or that policies covering notifiable disease (ie. inc Covid-19) refer to a situation in which the premises have been closed down due to it being discovered on the premises)
  3. if your policy has the relevant wording, the professional advice is that you should submit a claim and see what response you get from your broker/insurer. The FCA is asking insurers to pay or explain why not

Music Venue Trust is offering more detailed information by email to MVA members. If you have not received this please send a request to [email protected]



Devolved Governments


At present all measures in England are also available in Scotland, though the Small Business Grant Funding has a different threshold (see below).

Scottish Government updated their package of measures on 18 March to support businesses in 2020/21:

  • a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism (you do not have to apply for the relief, it is automatic so just cancel your direct debit)
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief (go to this page and then select your local authority from the drop down list –
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000 (go to this page and then select your local authority from the drop down list –
  • Scottish Local Authorities have been urged to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways. Speak to your licensing solicitor if you are interested in offering off sales if your licence does not currently include it in your operating plan, as it may be possible to de-licence an area of your premises and relicense it for off-sales on an occasional license. We would only advise this where you think it may be financially viable
  • support for Business Water Bills: relaxation of charges. Scottish Water has agreed to suspend pre-payment charges for licensed providers for two months, beginning with the April payment. This means providers – who supply water services to businesses – can be flexible with their own customers. We urge you to speak to your water provider



Creative Wales have created a Grassroots Music Relief Fund (GMRF). This open fund is available now and GMVs in Wales can apply for funding up to £25,000 to help them deal with COVID-19 related challenges. No matched funding is required (Welsh Government will provide the required money) and this is in addition to the package of support below. To request full details and an application form write to [email protected]

Welsh Government announced an updated package of support on 18 March for small businesses to help them during the coronavirus outbreak:

  • all retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £500,000 or below will receive 100% non-domestic rates relief in 2020-21
  • businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000 will be offered a grant of £25,000
  • businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will be eligible for a £10,000 grant


Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Government announced a package of support on 18 March for small businesses:

  • an immediate grant of £10,000 will be provided to all small businesses who are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme (all businesses with a NAV up to £15,000)
  • an immediate grant of £25,000 will be provided to companies in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • The Executive has already committed to providing a three month rates holiday to ALL businesses from April to June




Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Fund

To avoid a catastrophic outcome for our grassroots artists, workers and musicians, Music Venue Trust is today launching a Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Fund. The GMVCF will give MVT the funding it needs to place its existing Emergency Response service on a crisis footing. Last year, the Emergency Response Service prevented 91 closures in 12 months.

In the next 3 months alone, MVT needs the resources and financial backing to prevent over 550 potential closures. MVT’s Emergency Response Service will defend each individual venue that comes under threat of permanent closure as and when it happens, taking actions required to prevent that venue from being permanently lost. MVT’s Emergency Response Service has a proven track record in preventing venue closures and has been successful in 98% of threatened closure cases.

MVT needs to raise £1 million from the music industry, cultural sector and high net worth individuals to fully fund this service. With this funding MVT will be able to respond directly and dynamically to every threatened closure and provide emergency financial support when required to prevent the permanent closure of Grassroots Music Venues.

Music Venue Trust wants to save every single Grassroots Music Venue in the UK so that it can reopen after this crisis and continue to be a home to our musicians and our communities. Please join us.

If you are part of an organisation that wishes to donate to the Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Fund please contact Beverley Whitrick – [email protected], 07809 155 388

Personal donations can be made at:


Music Venue Trust is a UK Registered Charity which acts to protect, secure and improve UK Grassroots Music Venues for the benefit of venues, communities and upcoming artists.

Find out more here.

Music Venues Alliance is a free-to-join informal association of Grassroots Music Venues across the UK.

Find out more here.

Regular Donors

MVT would like to thank the following companies which support our work with regular donations:
The O2
Jack Daniel’s
Strings & Things Ltd.
Fightback Lager
Manchester Academy



Sign the petition now!

Cancel the Festival of Britain 2022.
Save Britain’s Grassroots Culture.

Dear Mr Johnson

We need you to act immediately to legally enforce the temporary closure of Grassroots Music Venues. If you do not act to do so, your government will be responsible for the permanent closure and loss of hundreds of these vital and vibrant parts of our communities in every corner of the United Kingdom.

We are writing to you on behalf of the 661 members of the Music Venues Alliance, a network of Grassroots Music Venues right across the UK. Everyone reading this letter will know one of these spaces, will have houses full of the music made by the artists who started their careers in them. They are the cornerstone of our identity as the world’s leading musical innovators, vital to our £5.2 billion music industry and essential to the culture and social interaction of our communities.

Following your press statement yesterday that the public should avoid pubs, clubs and theatres, this entire network is faced with ruin and permanent closure. In the specific case of these venues, the cause of that closure will not be the Coronavirus. It will be because the government chose to ignore all the advice it received and chose not to act. In your statement, you told the public to enact social distancing, to avoid places where social interaction takes place. Places like Grassroots Music Venues.

Music Venue Trust does not have access to epidemiologists or contagion control specialists. If this is the advice of informed public health officials then we believe it to be the best advice and our network, like everyone else, will want to support it and play their part. Throughout this crisis this is what the members of the Music Venues Alliance have done; follow the public health advice and try to protect our communities.

But yesterday you announced a new and urgent government Public Health policy with no action by the government to deliver it. You created the conditions where these venues are forced to remain open while simultaneously requesting that the public do not go to them. This is not a policy at all. If Public Health demands that these venues should not be used, Public Health demands that the government should act to close them. You cannot ask Grassroots Music Venues and the thousands of people who work in them to pay the cost of a Public Health policy decision that the government needs to take.

Without a direct decision by the government that Grassroots Music Venues should close, these cultural spaces are opened up to unmanageable risks. Those with insurance cannot claim on it. Those with lease agreements based on trade are in breach of their contracts. Rent, mortgage, rates, VAT, Tax, wages will have to be paid and the entire liability falls on the individual venue operator. We work with those venue operators every day; your announcement has provoked a new public health crisis of unmanageable stress and mental health challenges among this community that was completely unnecessary and could have been avoided.

Prior to your statement yesterday, Music Venue Trust supplied a full breakdown to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport detailing the financial cost of mothballing these venues for temporary closure in a planned and constructed action. That action would see them protected and able to reopen when this crisis is over. We laid out the cost for you; £11.4million now to protect the supply chain, people’s jobs, homes, businesses, and £3.7 million per week to maintain them while they are closed. For eight weeks, the total cost would be less than £40 million.

Maybe £40 million sounds like a lot to protect 661 Grassroots Music Venues to some people reading this letter. We aren’t sticking our hand up begging to be a special case, we understand this is a crisis. But we are providing you with logical consequences of acting on public health advice in the short term and how to manage the impact of that decision making in the long term. To help government do that, we provided information to your government on a range of measures you could enact which would reduce and manage this demand on the public purse.

But let’s imagine you didn’t take any of that advice, and it was £40 million. Let’s imagine that in all the other things you are needing to do there is no additional budget at all to protect culture and creative industries. Let’s imagine that you stood up yesterday knowing that this sector could be protected and public health could be protected for £40 million for eight weeks and you didn’t know where it could come from. Let’s imagine that you currently think you have no choice.

We want to propose a simple solution and give you that choice: Cancel the 2022 Festival of Great Britain.

The government has committed £120 million to delivering an event that no one in the public has demanded, and many sectors of the public simply do not want. It has little backing in the cultural and creative industries and is neither urgent nor necessary. The entire Grassroots Music Venue sector can be mothballed for eight weeks and saved permanently for just one third of the money you have already allocated to this single event. With the remaining £80 million we would strongly urge you to create a Cultural Sector Hardship Relief Fund. That fund could take action on grassroots theatres, arts centres, community pubs, any space that is a vital hub of culture and social interaction in our communities.

Music Venue Trust has provided you with all the information you need to take action. We have laid out the challenges, proposed the solutions, and tried to work with government on positive action to manage an immediate public health crisis with long term, structured, achievable solutions. We remain committed to doing that and want you to work with us. The solution is simple, adds nothing to the demands on the public purse and will work:

Cancel the Festival of Britain 2022. Save Britain’s Grassroots Culture.

Mark Davyd
Music Venue Trust

Sign the petition now!


Music Venue Trust is a member of the European network for live music venues, clubs & festivals Live DMA. Through this membership, MVT participates in the Live Style Europe project, which is co-financed by the Creative Europe programme.