Tax relief for production of orchestral concerts

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 5 Gorffennaf 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Will this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

That schedule 8 be the Eighth schedule to the Bill.

Clause 51 stand part.

Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Who knows what adventures the Finance Bill will take us on today? Hopefully the sittings will be a little more sedate than last week’s.

I will first address clause 50 and schedule 8, and then move on to clause 51 relating to television and video games tax relief. Clause 50 brings in schedule 8, which introduces a new relief for orchestral concerts, provides for consequential amendments to other parts of taxes Acts as a result, and arranges for the commencement of the relief. First announced in the autumn of 2014, the new tax relief for orchestral production will allow qualifying companies engaged in the production of concerts to claim an additional deduction in computing their taxable profits and, where that additional deduction results in a loss, to surrender the losses for a payable tax credit. The additional deduction and the payable credit are calculated on the basis of European Economic Area core expenditure, up to a maximum of 80% of the total core expenditure by the qualifying company. The additional deduction is 100% of qualifying core expenditure, and the payable tax credit is 25% of losses surrendered.

The credit is based on the company’s qualifying expenditure on the production of a qualifying orchestral concert. The expenditure must be on activities directly involved in producing a concert, such as rehearsal costs. Qualifying expenditure will not include indirect costs, such as financing, marketing and accountancy and legal fees, and at least 25% of the qualifying expenditure must be on goods or services that are provided from within the EEA. Concerts that have among their main purposes the advertising of goods and services or the making of a recording, or that include a competition, will not qualify for relief.

The stated objective of the measure is to support the creative sector and sustainably promote British culture. I certainly back that approach, not least because the BBC Philharmonic orchestra is based in my constituency and continues to attract many like-minded orchestral organisations to my city. On the machinery of the calculations, however, as the deduction of credit is calculated on the basis of EEA core expenditure, what assessment has the Minister made of amendments that might need to be made to the clause as a result of Britain’s exit from the EU?

I am pleased that the Government took the time to consult on the measure, and I note that the summary of responses published in March 2015 indicates that the industry welcomed the introduction of the relief. I am also pleased that the Government took heed of the Opposition’s concerns about the initial proposal exempting brass bands from the relief, effectively introducing a brass band tax, and that the Government subsequently included brass bands in the relevant definition in March 2015. The draft Bill and a policy paper were published in December 2015, and the Government did not make any substantive changes after the technical consultation exercise, so I am confident that the legislation will do what it says on the tin.

The measure is expected to cost the Exchequer £5 million in the financial year 2016-17 and £10 million every financial year thereafter until 2019-20. The Opposition agree with the principle of supporting the UK’s creative industries and therefore support clause 50 and schedule 8, but we are concerned that we keep creating relief after relief. Why does this targeted measure take the form of a tax relief, rather than a grant? Also, the industry is concerned that the relief does not support commercial music production, which is supported in other countries. Will the Minister clarify today, or indeed in a written response after today, what support is in place for this important industry?

Finally, what modelling have the Government done to ensure that the legislation is rigorous enough to prevent use of the relief for avoidance purposes? I understand that there were some issues about film tax relief and avoidance, and I am also concerned that the wording in proposed new section 1217RL to the Corporation Tax Act 2009 may not be very robust, especially with reference to those tax avoidance arrangements that fall within the ambiguous term, “understanding”; I am sure that the Minister will agree that by their very nature those will not be contractual. Will he confirm whether he has given thought to additional resources that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs might need if it is adequately to investigate such scenarios?

Clause 51 simply makes minor, consequential amendments to the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 and the Corporation Tax Act 2010, substituting the words “section 1218B” for “section 1218”. The Opposition support television and video games tax relief, as we introduced it. We see no issue with this technical clause.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship again this morning, Mr Howarth. I welcome the hon. Member for Salford and Eccles to the Committee. She has taken on a substantial workload in the past few days. Having had experience of performing her role of holding the Government to account in the Finance Bill, I recognise how challenging it can be. I wish her luck in that; if I may say so, she has made an excellent start, raising important points about this group of clauses.

I will start with a few words about clauses 50 and 51 and schedule 8, and then I will respond to the hon. Lady’s questions. The Government have supported our world-leading creative and cultural sectors, which have entertained millions worldwide while attracting significant investment into the United Kingdom. Clause 50 and schedule 8 provide further support by introducing a new corporation tax relief for the production of orchestral concerts. The Government recognise the cultural value and artistic importance of Britain’s orchestras. The relief is intended to support them in continuing to perform for a range of audiences, and in contributing to British culture.

Clause 51 makes minor consequential amendments to the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 and the Corporation Tax Act 2010 as a result of the introduction of video games tax relief in the Finance Bill 2013. The change is not expected to have an impact on businesses that claim the relief.

The UK is home to some exciting, world-famous orchestras. The relief introduced by clause 50 recognises their artistic importance and cultural value. Its objective is to support orchestras so that they can continue to perform for a wide range of audiences. To deliver that support, the Government are building on the success of existing creative sector tax reliefs available for the production of film, high-end television and children’s television, video games, animation and theatre. Those reliefs have shown how targeted support can make a real difference, not only by promoting economic activity, but by promoting British culture and the way that the UK is viewed internationally.

Clause 50 will introduce a new corporation tax relief and payable tax credit for the qualifying costs of producing an orchestral performance. It will support a wide variety of ensembles and performances, from chamber orchestras to large brass bands playing music ranging from jazz to blues. It will allow production companies to claim a payable tax credit worth up to 25% of the cost of developing an orchestral concert, with effect from 1 April this year.

In 2013, minor consequential amendments were made to the Corporation Tax Act 2010, as some sections were renumbered following the introduction of video games tax relief in the Finance Bill 2013. Clause 51 makes a further consequential amendment to the Act and the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992; it is not expected to have an impact on any business claiming that relief.

The Government are grateful for the constructive and positive engagement with the industry since the policy was announced, and during consultation in 2015. That has enabled us to understand better how the orchestra industry operates, and to design a relief that will work across the sector. The director of the Association of British Orchestras, Mark Pemberton, has commented that the relief

“will make a big difference to our members’ resilience in these challenging times, helping them to continue to offer the very best in British music-making to audiences both here in the UK and abroad.”

The hon. Lady asked whether there was a risk of the relief being abused. Effective anti-avoidance rules are critical to the long-term success and stability of orchestra tax relief. Rules similar to those applied to the creative industry reliefs aim to prevent artificial inflation of claims. In addition, there will be a general anti-avoidance rule based on the GAAR denying relief where there are any tax-avoidance arrangements relating to the production—and, of course, HMRC will monitor for abuse once the regime has been introduced. On HMRC resourcing, I point the Committee in the direction of the £800 million announced in last year’s summer Budget, which provided further investment in HMRC to deal with avoidance and evasion measures more generally.

I come back to the point the hon. Lady raised about film tax relief and how that was abused. It is true that an earlier design of film tax relief was brought in by the previous Labour Government and was abused. That relief was abandoned by that Government, and the replacement model has been much more successful. It has provided the support that the film industry needs and benefits from, and that has helped to ensure that we have a thriving film industry without anything like the risks of abuse we saw formerly. In the measures that we have taken, we have learned from the previous approach.

The hon. Lady referred to making use of an EEA definition, and understandably asked what the implications are of the vote to leave the European Union. It is too early to say exactly how that will work. We are not sure what relationship we will have with the European Union, other than that we will be leaving it. It is quite possible that EEA definitions and so on will remain relevant, but we currently remain members of the EU and are considering legislation that takes effect in April, so it is necessary to comply with the rules as they stand. If it is necessary to review definitions, that is something we will have to look at, but that will depend on the future renegotiation.

The hon. Lady expressed the concern that perhaps we have too many tax reliefs. As the Chancellor made clear in the House of Commons yesterday, there is a place for reliefs, but our general and main focus has been on lowering corporation tax rates, and that continues to be the case. There is scope for using tax reliefs to support investment in growth through the tax system, and that is why we provide a range of tax reliefs and allowances. The Government have restricted a number of tax reliefs and allowances; for example, we have introduced a cap on income tax reliefs, restricted relief for buy-to-let landlords and capped the amount of losses through which banks can reduce their tax, so we have taken action on reliefs where we feel that their use is disproportionate to the benefits for the wider economy.

On orchestras, the Government are committed to supporting the arts through both spending programmes and tax reliefs. The orchestra tax relief is intended to complement current funding. It is specifically aimed at supporting orchestras in continuing to produce high-quality music that is enjoyed by a range of audiences. In those circumstances, we think it is justifiable. I hope that the clause has the support of Members in all parts of the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 50 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 8 agreed to.

Clause 51 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 52