The Live Music Forum
Hamish Birchall Bulletin
Friday 14th August 2009 - DCMS and LGA misuse live music stats
As reported yesterday, the government has confirmed that they do not have current statistics for the provision of live music in pubs, or any other type of venue.
Since 2008 DCMS has collected data allowing an estimate of the overall
proportion of licensed premises that have no live music permission: about
60%. This can be broken down to premises with permission for on- or off-sales
of alcohol. But, as their surveys no longer differentiate between types
of venue, and have never looked at live music licence conditions or their
implementation, there is no data for the current provision of live music,
or even the potential for that provision, in pubs or any other venue category:
But this hasn't stopped the government and the Local Government Association misusing the data to oppose to the Culture Committee's recommended exemptions for small gigs.
On 14 July, as reported in Music Week, DCMS defensively cited an apparent 7% rise in premises licensed for live music between 2007 and 2008 to counter Feargal Sharkey's criticisms of the government position:
'In fact, there was a 7% increase in venues licenced to stage live music
between 2007 and 2008, so we totally reject the suggestion that the Licensing
Act has lead to a decrease in live music venues.'
The leaked LGA live music strategy briefing 'Licensed Premises - LGA view', dating from April, also uses this data, claiming an 8% rise for premises with a live music permission.
The headline finding of the last DCMS live music survey, the British Market Research Board study of 2007, was the 5% decrease in live music provision since the Licensing Act 2003 came into force (in November 2005). This was highlighted by Sharkey in his criticism of the government's rejection of the Culture Committee recommendations.
But even if we set aside that 5% decrease, neither DCMS nor the LGA have any idea what type of venue is included in their claimed rise of 7 or 8%, no idea what licence restrictions may apply, or if they have even been implemented, and no idea whether there is any live music actually being performed. As the recent St Albans examples show, licence conditions can be absurdly restrictive.
The House of Lords information office said yesterday that the government answer confirming that they no longer keep statistics on live music by venue category will not be available online until 7th September. So here is the full Q&A - with a small correction: the answer was in fact provided by Lord Davies of Oldham, not Lord Carter of Barnes as I reported yesterday:
Lord Clement-Jones tabled three questions:
How many (a) student unions, (b) clubs and associations, (c) church halls and community centres, (d) pubs and inns, (e) small clubs, (f) hotels and (g) restaurants and cafes had a premises licence or a club premises certificate in each year since the Licensing Act 2003 came into force. [HL5228]
How many new applications were granted for the performance of live music in (a) student unions, (b) clubs and associations, (c) church halls and community centres, (d) pubs and inns, (e) small clubs, (f) hotels and (g) restaurants and cafes in each year since the Licensing Act 2003 came into force. [HL5229]
How many (a) student unions, (b) clubs and associations, (c) church halls and community centres, (d) pubs and inns, (e) small clubs, (f) hotels and (g) restaurants and cafes were licensed for the performance of live music in each year since the Licensing Act 2003 came into force. [HL5230]
Lord Davies of Oldham's answer 27 July 2009:
'We do not hold all of the information that has been requested. Since the implementation of the Licensing Act 2003, DCMS has been collecting Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment statistics for England and Wales on an annual basis by financial year from licensing authorities. The statistical collection identifies how many premises have permission, in the form of a premises licence or club premises certificate, to put on regulated entertainment, including live music. However, it is not known how many different types of premises (e.g. student unions) have obtained an appropriate permission to cover live performances of music. In some cases, a premises may decide to put on an event by giving a temporary event notice. The latest statistical bulletin reports there were an estimated 195,500 premises licences and 17,500 club premises certificates as at 31st March 2008 in England and Wales. These include an estimated 80,500 premises licences with live music provisions and an estimated 10,900 club premises certificates with live music provisions. There is no centrally collected data on the number of new applications granted solely for the performance of live music.'