At this month’s Labour Creatives Conference, Keir Starmer pledged reforms to the UK ticket touting system to stop the exploitation of music fans who miss out on concert tickets and have to buy them from secondary websites at highly inflated prices. If Labour forms the next government, Starmer has pledged to:

  1. Strengthen consumer rights legislation by ensuring touts can only sell tickets for no more than 10% above face value
  2. Enact a new rule that restricts how many tickets a tout is allowed to sell per show
  3. Give the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) the powers they need to take action against touts who do not comply
  4. Hold ticketing platforms to account for the accuracy of their listed ticket information

To many in the music industry, these reforms are long overdue. In 2022, a joint investigation between FanFair and ITV News found that three speculative traders were responsible for more than 2/3 of the UK festival tickets listed on Viagogo.

In 2023, the issue gained worldwide media attention when Taylor Swift’s Era tour tickets rose to over £3,200 on secondary websites within an hour of the main sale. In the same year, Fanfair called for an outright ban on profit ticket resale in the UK.

Earlier this month, Leeds Crown Court ruled that two traders were “fraudulent” and had “exploited the love and passions of music fans” by buying 47,000 tickets across two and a half years to the value of £6.5 million using 127 names and 187 different email addresses.  

Reforms to ticket touting have been proposed before. In 2021, CMA proposed regulations to prevent bulk buying, to end speculative selling (a practice whereby touts list seats they don’t have), and to allow CMA to penalise or shut down resale sites breaching its rules. In May 2023, the UK government declined to progress CMA’s proposal, stating that “broader changes to consumer law should take precedence over legislation against touting.”

Following stricter rules on touting set by many other countries, Labour’s announcement will be hailed as positive news for music fans. Sharon Hodgson MP, a long-time campaigner against ticket touting and a collaborator with Fanfair Alliance, said: “I've been fighting for consumer rights and to end these exploitative practices for nearly 15 years… I am delighted to see that the Labour Party has recognised the need for urgent action.”

Labour further highlighted the value of creative industries to the UK economy. The party emphasised that these industries contribute more to the UK economy than the life sciences, aerospace and automotive industries combined, with total revenues of arts businesses reaching £140 billion in 2022.