Covid: Festivals and live events to be covered by government-backed £750m insurance scheme

Credit: PA

Live events, including festivals and concerts, are to finally be offered a safety net if they are forced to close or cancel due to Covid.

The government is backing a £750 million insurance scheme in a bid to stop a second summer of mass cancellations.

Industry figures have been calling for such support to help them recover from the pandemic and be able to plan events without the risk of an outbreak leaving them out of pocket.

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Many organisers have found that insurers would not cover them for cancellations caused by coronavirus.

What is the insurance scheme, who is covered and is it enough?

The government has now announced it has partnered with Lloyd’s to deliver the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme as part of the Treasury’s Plan for Jobs.

The government will act as a ‘reinsurer’ and offer a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer products to cover organisers if state restrictions shut events down.

But Labour’s shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said the offer was the “bare minimum”.

She said: “Anything less than lockdown, like the reintroduction of social distancing or artists or crew having to self-isolate, isn’t covered.

“Yet again the government has dithered, delayed and come up with a solution that doesn’t address the problem. Under this scheme, the Government essentially takes no risk and the live events sector carries it all.”

The scheme will cover the live events sector and is due to be available from next month alongside standard commercial events insurance.

The scheme will run until the end of September 2022.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The events sector supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country, and I know organisers are raring to go now that restrictions have been lifted.

Crowds at a music festival in Liverpool as part of the national Events Research Programme in May Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/PA Images

“But the lack of the right kind of insurance is proving a problem, so as the economy reopens I want to do everything I can to help events providers and small businesses plan with confidence right through to next year," he added.

“We have some of the best events in the world here in the UK – from world-famous festivals to your local fair. With this new insurance scheme, everything from live music in Margate to business events in Birmingham can go ahead with confidence, providing a boost to the economy and protecting livelihoods through our Plan for Jobs.”

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music, said: “For months, UK Music has been warning about the catastrophic impact of the market failure in insurance for live events. The inability to obtain insurance has already caused many cancellations this summer – these have been devastating for the entire music industry and there were fears that without action we would have seen major cancellations continuing well into next year too.

“This new government scheme is therefore incredibly welcome news – not just for the millions of music fans who have been looking forward to the return of live events, but also for the tens of thousands of musicians, crew members and wider supply chain workers whose jobs depend on continued live activity.”

Glastonbury Festival has been cancelled for two years in a row. Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Denis Desmond, chairman of Live Nation UK and Ireland, said: “This vital intervention from the UK government offers certainty to artists, concert and festival promoters in the live entertainment market. This is very welcome news and will help keep the sector and its employees working.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden added: “Our events industries are not just vital for the economy and jobs; they put Britain on the map and, thanks to this extra support, will get people back to the experiences that make life worth living.”

Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman Julian Knight welcomed the move.

The Conservative MP said: “Though it is a shame that it has come too late for some this summer, this scheme will provide the confidence the sector needs to plan and invest in future events.”