Music bosses accuse UK ministers of leaving Scotland at ‘significant disadvantage’

Music industry bosses have accused the UK Government of leaving Scottish artists at a "significant disadvantage compared to their counterparts in England".

The Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce (SCMIT) spoke out amid claims UK ministers have failed to pass on tens of millions of pounds of culture funding.

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, it said the sector had been left in a "severely weakened position".

The body said: "We would ask if you could explain why there has been such a significant delay and urge you to take action to resolve this issue as a matter of urgency in order that artists and culture organisations in Scotland can benefit from this support as was intended."

Leith Theatre during the Edinburgh International Festival. Picture: David Wilkinson

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It comes after SNP culture minister Jenny Gilruth said just £9 million of an expected £40 million funding boost had been provided to the Scottish Government.

She said the extra cash is Scotland's share of a £300 million uplift to the UK Government's Culture Recovery Fund.

SNP MSP Michelle Thomson said: "Bluntly, it seems the Tory Government doesn't give two hoots about Scotland's music industry – they are ignoring every plea that is being made by industry professionals, bodies and the Scottish Government for Scotland's full share of Barnett consequential cultural recovery funding to be delivered.

"The industry has been one of the worst hit over the course of the pandemic and they still face significant barriers due to the restrictions they are following.”

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She added: "The very least the music industry in Scotland deserves is to be receiving the same level of support as their counterparts in England – and an explanation as to why that support has been delayed for Scotland.”

Speaking in Holyrood on Thursday, Ms Gilruth said the "withholding of funding by the UK Government is placing Scottish artists and cultural organisations at a significant disadvantage".

She said: "The UK Government has recently made further announcements on the allocations in England from the £300 million of cultural recovery funding that was announced in the March budget.

"Scotland’s culture sector, meanwhile, still awaits its full share of Barnett consequentials."

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The SCMIT encompasses all sectors of the music industry from agents and managers, promoters and festivals to music venues and production companies.

Its founding members include DF Concerts, which promotes and manages the TRNSMT music festival in Glasgow, as well as management companies representing bands such as Idlewild and Mogwai.

In a letter sent at the end of last month, it said: “First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on 11 May 2021 that the expected £40 million would be made available for culture organisations in Scotland but six months later Scottish ministers have been unable to fulfil that commitment in full due to HM Treasury not delivering the remaining consequentials in a timely manner.

“The result of these funds being withheld from the UK Government is that Scottish artists and culture organisations are at significant disadvantage compared to their counterparts in England.”

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The UK Treasury said the Scottish Government had already received £6.5 billion of additional funding this year through the Barnett formula, which allocates money to Scotland.

It said the Barnett formula applies to changes in departmental expenditure limits – the amount departments have been allocated to spend – and not simply when departments make spending or policy announcements.

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