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Will the UK’s performing arts sector be able to survive the crisis?

Will significant parts of the performing arts sector fall through the gaps in the Job Support Scheme? Is the economy going through a significant structural adjustment, making many existing jobs unviable? Do the Government’s support schemes accurately reflect the state of the labour market?

These are among the questions the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee will be asking two panels of witnesses on Tuesday 6 October 2020. These sessions are part of the Committee’s Employment and COVID-19 inquiry.

These public evidence sessions will have remote participation by witnesses and Committee members. The session will be streamed live on Parliament TV.

The first session will begin at 3pm and focus on the Treasury’s Winter Economic Plan. Giving evidence will be:

  • James Smith, Research Director, Resolution Foundation
  • Helen Barnard, Director, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Paul Johnson, Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Questions the Committee is likely to ask include:

  • Does the Job Support Scheme provide a high enough wage subsidy from Government?
  • Why have other countries deemed it to be economically viable to extend their job retention schemes, yet the UK has not?
    • In light of the extension of the loan schemes, how much further does the Treasury need to go to provide support for businesses who took out a crisis loan?
  • Are there other practical steps that the Government could take to remove barriers for people wishing to take up new kinds of work, or working more?
  • Is the Government correct when it says targeting specific sectors with wage support is too difficult?

The second session will begin at 4pm and focus on the arts and culture sector. Giving evidence will be:

  • Horace Trubridge, General Secretary, Musicians' Union
  • Abigail Pogson, Managing Director, Sage Gateshead
  • Peter Heath, Managing Director, Professional Lighting and Sound Association
  • Julian Bird, Chief Executive, UK Theatre.

Questions the Committee is likely to ask include:

  • How important are venues like the Sage Gateshead to the local economy and community?
  • What impact has the pandemic had on the live events industry’s supply chain?
  • How effective have the Government’s employment and financial support schemes been so far?
  • Does the extension of the self-employed scheme provide enough financial security to self-employed workers in the arts and culture sector?
  • Which parts of the arts and culture sector are most affected? Which parts will only be ‘viable’ with further targeted support?

More on this inquiry, Employment and Covid-19

Last week Lord Heseltine and witnesses from the University of Surrey, University of Birmingham, Learning and Work Institute, Airlines UK, Rail Delivery Group, Confederation of Passenger Transport, and Campaign for Better Transport gave evidence to the Committee. The transcripts are available here and you can also watch the sessions back on Parliament TV.

This inquiry has its own web page.

More on the Economic Affairs Committee

The Economic Affairs Committee is one of the five permanent investigative committees in the House of Lords and is charged with considering economic affairs.

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