Ahead of an expected summer statement from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on Wednesday 8th July to boost the British economy emerging from lockdown, the Community Media Association is asking its supporters to call on HM Treasury for a Community Radio Stimulus Package consisting of the following five requests:
a) A second round of funding from the Community Radio Fund
We call upon the Treasury to fund the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) to implement a second round of the Community Radio Fund for 2020-21 and provide additional support for community radio stations.
b) An increase in the Community Radio Fund
We call upon the Treasury to provide for DCMS to significantly increase the Community Radio Fund from its current level of £400,000 that is pitifully inadequate to support more than 300 stations currently. Additionally, the sector is set to expand substantially with the introduction of small-scale DAB when more stations will have access to the Community Radio Fund.
c) The establishment of an equipment fund to subside the set-up of small-scale digital radio multiplexes
We call upon the Treasury to provide DCMS for with sufficient funding to support and pump prime the new small-scale DAB (SSDAB) platform. To ensure the success of this flagship DCMS project, we urge the Treasury to create a fund to subsidise the establishment of the new multiplexes. SSDAB will play a pivotal role in the next few years in reinvigorating local economies by, for example, providing a low-cost advertising platform for local small businesses – therefore subsidising start-ups in this area will produce a significant return on investment for communities.
d) Mandatory business rate relief for all Ofcom-licensed community radio stations
We call on the Government for a review into the provision of mandatory rate relief for all Ofcom-licensed community radio stations. The current situation is patchy with some stations eligible for up to 80% rates relief for the premises that they use and others not eligible at all. In recognition of the role that community radio stations play as a vital community service, we request that the financial burden of running community premises is eased for all community radio stations.
e) Tax relief for Ofcom-licensed community radio stations
We call upon the Government to permit community radio stations to register with HMRC in order to receive ‘charity type’ tax reliefs including Gift Aid on donations, mandatory business rates relief, and a number of tax relief benefits. A precedent for such a scheme already exists for community amateur sports clubs. To recognise the role that community radio stations play in the health and well-being of not only their volunteers but also that of the wider community, we request that community radio stations are treated, for tax purposes, on a similar basis as amateur sports clubs.
Supporters of the campaign can email HM Treasury via this link: https://commedia.eaction.org.uk/rebuild
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, more than 300 community radio stations have played a vital role in galvanising local support, developing information networks, and supporting neighbourhood connections. However, at a time when their communities now need them to help rebuild, these stations are facing significant hardship, reductions in staff and capacity, and possible closure.
For community radio stations to help kick-start town centres and high streets, the sector needs some help. There is now an urgent need to secure the future sustainability of the community radio sector and its capacity to redevelop communities. The issues affecting the sector come from a number of sources:
- Loss of trading through cancelled advertising and contracted events
- Cuts in grant-funded projects
- Reduced opportunities for the delivery of training
- Impact on contractual and service delivery income
- The wider impacts of the economic downturn
The Community Media Association and its members, colleagues, and supporters urgently ask the Government to support the rebuild of local economies with a Community Radio Stimulus Package.