Culture: Coronavirus

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 26th March 2020.

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Photo of Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis Labour, Barnsley Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to support the cultural sector during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State

Last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced additional measures to support businesses and organisations that have been impacted by the pandemic. Details of which can be found below.

Government has been working round the clock to do whatever it takes to protect our people and businesses. That means that we are not only taking unprecedented action, but doing so at unprecedented speed, because we know that businesses and their employees need help now.

During the response to this outbreak, the Secretary of State and Minister for Digital and Culture have led a number of calls with representatives of the creative and cultural sectors, amongst other DCMS sectors, to understand the challenges that they are facing. There are plans for ongoing, regular contact with members and representatives of the cultural sector.

Officials are also continuing to engage with organisations regularly in order to best understand how Government can support the cultural and creative sectors and to discuss the practicalities and implications of policy measures. The Government has announced a number of measures to support the cultural sector as they handle the significant implications of the Covid-19 virus. In particular:

  • The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has already announced a host of measures to help businesses in this period with £330bn worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses across the UK, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

  • £20bn of direct fiscal support for businesses in England through tax relief and cash grants to help business manage cash flow.

  • A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where small and large employers will be eligible to apply for a government grant of 80% of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be backdated to March 1 and available for at least three months, with first grants to be paid within weeks.

  • Deferral of the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June - representing a £30bn injection for employers.

  • A package of temporary welfare measures, which when taken together with those announced at Budget provide over £6.5bn of additional support through the welfare system for people affected by COVID-19.

  • This comes on top of compensation for statutory sick pay that the Chancellor announced in the Budget.

  • Arts Council England have announced a £160m emergency response package, supported by Government funding, to complement the financial measures already announced by Government. It will help individuals and organisations focus on two things: sustaining their livelihoods and businesses, and where possible, developing creative responses to the Covid-19 crisis (e.g. participatory digital content for people self-isolating) to help buoy the public for its duration.

  • Alongside this injection of additional cash, at least until 30 June this year National Portfolio Organisations, Music Education Hubs and Creative People and Places programmes will continue to receive funding, with funding conditions relaxed as needed. Where possible, ACE will also advance grant payments to assist with cashflow, to relieve immediate financial pressure for those in need.

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