Give us the right figure on removal of music exemption, NCVO tells the Government

Charities minister Angela Smith tells Commons £20m figure is out of date

The NCVO has challenged the Government to reveal how much the removal of the charity exemption from music licensing will cost the sector after charities minister Angela Smith claimed the original estimate of £20m a year was out of date.

Last November, the Government announced that it would end the charity exemption from the requirement to buy a licence from Phonographic Performance Limited, which collects royalties on behalf of performers and record companies. Its impact assessment said the move would cost charities £20m a year.

But during Cabinet Office questions in the House of Commons yesterday, Smith accused shadow Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude of being "sadly out of date" when he quoted the figure, which she said was overstated.

"It was the number in the original consultation, but we have moved on significantly from that point because there have been negotiations," she said. But Smith did not say what she thought a more accurate figure was.

Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said the Government should publish its latest estimates. "We have long expressed deep concern about the impact this new charge would have on the voluntary sector," he said. "We would be pleased to hear of a reduction in the estimated £20m figure and would urge the Office of the Third Sector to share any further information it has on this."

The OTS was unable to confirm the new estimate by Thursday morning.

The new licensing regime is expected to begin in April, but Smith stressed that no changes would be implemented until negotiations between the sector and the rights bodies, which she is facilitating, had been completed.

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