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UK government will not consider festival insurance until lockdown ends

"It’s too late for the planning for so many of these summer festivals,” said MP Heather Wheeler

  • Paddy Edrich
  • 18 May 2021
UK government will not consider festival insurance until lockdown ends

The UK government will not consider providing festival insurance until lockdown ends, says culture secretary Oliver Dowden.

Dowden said that insurance support would only be considered an option after stage four of the easing of lockdown restrictions on June 21.

Read this next: Last chance for government-backed insurance before raft of festival cancellations

Speaking at a Department for Culture, Media and Sport committee meeting on May 13, Dowden said: “It has to be the case first that we know something can go ahead.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the taxpayer to provide a full indemnity for all the events if it’s not possible for them to happen.”

An insurance broker has said that a government-funded scheme would only cost £250 million, and it would "unleash an estimated £9.1 billion of value to local and national economies".

Dowden added if restrictions on events are lifted on June 21, the lack of insurance remains the last barrier to them going ahead.

Only then will the government look at backing insurance as it has done with the film and TV industry.

Read this next: More than a quarter of UK music festivals cancelled due to a lack of insurance

Dowden said he was confident that the government would be able to go ahead with the final lifting on June 21.

However, MP Heather Wheeler said: “But it’s too late for the planning for so many of these summer festivals. It’s just too late.”

Festivals such as Boomtown Fair have already cancelled this year’s edition due to a lack of government-backed cancellation insurance.

In March, UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “To make sure we can move ahead with live events, festivals and concert organisers need the confidence that there is the safety-net of an insurance scheme.”

Read this next: Will music festivals actually happen this year?

Countries in Europe have already had financial backing, with Germany announcing a €2.5 billion cancellation fund in December, while the Dutch government following with at least €300 million a month later.

But a study from earlier this month found that 26% of festivals with a capacity above 5,000 have already been cancelled, with a further 76% of the remaining events expected to be cancelled if the insurance strategy is not reviewed.

Paddy Edrich is a freelance writer, follow him on Twitter

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