Spending review and budget 27 October 2021: headlines for leisure-time music groups

It’s not often that the government budget and spending review creates headlines for leisure-time music groups, but this time it does: the Chancellor has just doubled Orchestra Tax Relief (OTR) to 50%.

But let’s start with something else: there is now a concerted plan to upgrade infrastructure, under the government’s Levelling Up agenda. One thing it intends to address is digital access, ie. gigabit capable broadband and 4G throughout the UK, including rural areas. This is great news, as it was something many music groups wrestled with during the pandemic: you can’t go on Zoom if you can’t get decent internet where you live...

The government also proposes investing in local physical infrastructure: local transport (great news for music groups’ participants, especially if they don’t own their own transport) and local community assets (e.g. buildings that music groups may use for rehearsal or performance). Both of these are crucial infrastructure for community activity, so we urge music groups to keep an eye on local consultations and developments, so that they can articulate their need for such infrastructure when plans are debated locally.

OTR, currently at 25% of eligible costs, will double to 50% temporarily, starting from 27 October 2021

Orchestra Tax Relief

And now for some more detail on the big good news, at least for instrumental groups: OTR, currently at 25% of eligible costs, will double to 50% temporarily, starting from 27 October 2021. It will reduce again to 35% in April 2023 and return to 25% in April 2024.

This means that even more instrumental groups should find it worth their while to engage with this tax relief and claim it, year after year, to support their activity. OTR is not exclusively for orchestras – it is for any instrumental group of 12 or more (which can be the same instruments, e.g. flute choir) and is not open only to groups which pay tax, though it is paid as a result of a corporation tax submission.

Making Music offers groups 360 degree support in setting up the appropriate structures to claim OTR and providing a service to claim it on behalf of groups. Since the start of the scheme in 2018, we have been able to claim back over £250,000 for groups: real money that was not going to the sector without our service – so check out now if you could benefit.

For more information and to help you understand if it’s right for your group, have a look at our resource