Escalating business rates are continuing to put pressure on London’s entertainment industry according to latest figures from Colliers International, the global property agency and consultancy. Theatres and venues are now seeing new bills for the year dropping on their doormats which will show the third set of rises since the 2017 Revaluation, with many bills double what they were three years ago. Such bills will need to be paid from April 1st.

Colliers has analysed the business rates rises of the 55 London theatres that saw the highest rises in their rateable value (RV) following the 2017 Revaluation and found that they are now paying a rates bill of £10.4 million in 2019/20, compared to £6.8m three years ago. Some have individually seen eyewatering rises. The Royal Opera House for example will see a rates bill of £1.3 m this year. Three years ago, it paid £432,500- a rise of 203%. The Hammersmith Apollo will have seen a 118% hike over the period- now paying a bill of around 194,000 a year, from under £90,000 before the Revaluation.  As John Webber, Head of Business Rates at Colliers comments, “That’s a lot of seats and ice creams to sell.”

Theatres: Business Rates Rises Since the 2017 Revaluation

*Pre 2017 Revaluation   **Third set of rises post Revaluation

Theatre

Rates Bill 2016/7 *

Rates Bill

2017/8

Year 1 Post Revaluation

Rates Bill

2018/9

Year 2 Post

Revaluation

Rates Bill ** 2019/20

Year 3 Post Revaluation

% Increase

2016/7-2019/20

Royal Opera House

£43,500

£688,250

£897,500

£1.3 m

+203%

Eventim Apollo Hammersmith

£89,000

£133,000

£176,500

£194,000

+118%

Leicester Square Theatre

£36,500

£54,000

£67,000

£69,000

+89%

Royal Albert Hall

£517,000

£761,000

£934,000

£954,000

+84%

Dominion Theatre

£226,000

£330,000

£365,250

£373,000

+65%

Young Vic

£74,000

£107,000

£115,500

£118,000

+60%

Phoenix Theatre

£82,000

£120,000

£124,000

£127,000

+54%

Sadlers Wells

£206,000

£300,000

£310,000

£316,000

+54%

Victoria Palace

£97,000

£140,500

£145,000

£148,000

+53%

Her Majesty’s Haymarket

£112,000

£161,000

£165,000

£169,000

+51%

New Wimbledon Theatre

£90,000

£128,000

£131,500

£134,000

+50%

Lyric

£159,000

£225,000

£231,500

£236,000

+ 49%

And worryingly these rises are not the end. Bills will continue to rise next year and the following year, until they reach the level required by the Revaluation. By 2021/22 The Royal Opera House, for example will see an annual rates bill of over £1.57 million.

The reason for the hike is because those high value properties in England (over £100,000 Rateable Value), which constitutes a large part of the London theatre world are affected by ‘upwards phasing’ in their bills and will this year see their rises “capped at 49% plus inflation”.  In other words, many theatres and venues in these areas of central London will have rates bills for 2019/20 which are 50% bigger than in 2018/9 – a massive rise in one year alone.  This is on top of 42% increases (plus inflation) in 2017/18 and 32% (plus inflation) in 2018/19 - a combined increase in three years of a staggering 124% plus inflation.

John Webber, Head of Business Rates at Colliers International said, ““Whilst London is a major tourist location and famous for its amazing theatre and opera life, we need to be careful that we don’t overboil the broth. Our entertainments industry is facing increased pressures at the moment with escalating costs, and business rates rises are not helping. Rising costs usually means rising prices for the consumer to pay- but there will come a point when this market just won’t be able to put up its prices any further to cover costs.”

John Webber concluded, “Last month the Parliamentary Select Committee said it was going to look at how to help the retail sector and recommended alleviation to the business rates burden. This is all very good, but the pain this unfair tax causes goes much wider than pure retail. We need a widespread reform across all sectors of the market. London’s West End theatre world is no exception”