Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Support Measures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:49 pm on 8th October 2020.

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Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 4:49 pm, 8th October 2020

I understand my hon. Friend’s enthusiasm. Perhaps it would help if I unpack some of the culture recovery fund, because I, too, do not want to see any money left unclaimed. There is £88 million for heritage institutions, which will provide grants of £10,000 to £3 million; £622 million in recovery grants, and a further £270 million in repayable finance on very generous terms; £120 million to invest in rebuilding and upgrading our cultural infrastructure, as part of a wider effort to bounce back stronger; £100 million for arm’s-length bodies such as the British Library, the British Museum and the BFI; and £188 million for the devolved Administrations.

This is not just about big names in London. It is about all our small venues and our communities up and down the country. It is important to ensure that they are not forgotten, and with this fund, they are not. This is about protecting our cultural assets. That is why we have already provided £3.36 million in emergency funding, which has gone to grassroots venues up and down the country, and 42 cinemas across England have already been supported in the first wave of BFI funding. I know how important cinemas are, and the independent sector is a crucial part. The Department has also worked closely with our arm’s-length bodies to deliver tailored support packages at speed, including £200 million in emergency public funding to stabilise organisations and protect jobs. We have engaged extensively with the breadth of the sector since the pandemic began, and that is how we will ensure we get the culture recovery fund distributed as quickly as possible.

We continue to work at speed with sports clubs across the country to understand the best way of providing as much support as we can. Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport officials are working with their Treasury counterparts to ensure that as many sports clubs as possible are not adversely affected. The Government’s first duty is to public health, but we must ensure that there are clubs for fans to go back to.

In addition to sector-specific interventions, DCMS sectors have of course benefited from a year’s business rates holiday for leisure businesses, bounce back loans and the reduction in VAT from 20% to 5%.

Thanks to our arm’s-length body, Sport England, grassroots sport is in the process of receiving a £195 million package of support to help community sports clubs, which are so important at this time. We have recently boosted the community emergency fund by a further £15 million, taking the total to £210 million.

We have supported the return of elite sport to behind-closed-doors competition, which has also enabled vital broadcast revenue to flow into elite sport. The Government ensured that Project Restart was shared with everyone by getting Premier League football on the BBC for the first time ever.

There has also been important support for rugby league and, following the postponement of fans’ return to stadiums in general, the Government will come forward with a package to support the most affected sports. That includes help with the immediate needs of the National League football teams that are at the heart of many communities.

Work continues apace to explore new ways of getting fans into stadiums as soon as we can. We have hosted several successful pilots and we have launched the sports technology and innovation group. Its work and our learning from our successful pilot sports events with crowds will ensure that we are best prepared to get fans back into stadiums as soon as it is possible to do so.

I recognise that the business events industry, which is often related to stadiums, is also affected. That is why the Government have put in place the unprecedented package of general support. We will also work with the industry specifically to restart. Pilots undertaken in September have demonstrated that that can be done in a covid-secure way. We will continue to do that as much as we possibly can.

Tourism was one of the first industries to be hit, but the Government acted quickly to help businesses. On top of the wider economic support package, we have provided business rates relief and one-off grants and introduced the hugely significant cut in VAT for tourism. We recognise that the times remain extremely difficult for the sector. We are acutely aware of the seasonal nature of many businesses’ trade and we continue to engage with stakeholders to assess how we can most effectively support tourism’s recovery across the UK. I point my hon. Friends to the work with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and VisitBritain on the aim to extend the season in coastal communities where that can safely be done.

We have announced the £500 million film and TV production restart scheme to assist our creative economy. The scheme will be able to compensate film and TV productions after they have restarted. It is a temporary measure that supports productions that commence filming before the end of the calendar year and compensates for coronavirus losses until the end of June 2021.

We will work as quickly as we can to reopen theatres. We will continue to work with the sector to develop the pilot that we need to get theatres open. That is a vital part of getting support to freelancers. Our world-beating creative industries are nothing without the work of freelancers and we are working hard to help provide financial support for them in those sectors.

We should not forget the charitable and voluntary sector. It has done great work in these extraordinary times.

I am aware that I have not been able to cover every single aspect of the work of DCMS. We will continue to work with colleagues across the House to ensure that we can answer questions, provide the clarity the sector needs and support that most important of sectors in our country.