As measures are being announced to support businesses, freelancers and self-employed people are still fighting to have their livelihoods protected during this crisis. Given that our industry is reliant on freelance creatives, it is vital that we fight for the same rights and support for our freelance community as our employed community are being offered at this time.
What support is there currently for me as a self-employed person?
Based on the announcements made on 26th March, 2020, the current freelance/ self-employed support is as follows:
- A new self-employed income support scheme will allow those with average profits of £50,000 or less to benefit from up to £2,500 in support a month. The government will pay self-employed people a taxable grant based on their average monthly profits over the last three years.
- BUT this won’t come into affect until June.
- From June, it will cover a minimum of three months.
- To be eligible for this scheme, you must have completed at least one tax return (2018-2019). So anyone who is newly/ recently self-employed won’t be supported by this scheme.
- Anyone who missed the deadline for their tax return will get an extra four weeks.
- The scheme therefore only covers 95% of the self-employed.
- Sunak has also implied that because the self-employed are treated more like the employed in this situation, he is going to look at reforming the tax system so that the self=employed lose their tax advantages.
Based on the announcements made on 20th March, 2020, the current freelance/ self-employed support is as follows:
- If you are sick or have been advised to self-isolate, you will be eligible for Employments and Support Allowance from day one (instead of day eight)
- Universal Credit is being raised so that the self-employed receive the same amount as anyone on statutory sick pay
- The minimum income floor for the self-employed has been suspended, so self-employed people will be treated the same as employed people in the Universal Credit system
- Self employed/ freelance people will be able to defer their next set of self-assessment tax payments to January 2021
The Government also has said it will announce further measures to support self-employed people over the coming days, and we will keep this article updated with further announcements.
Funds freelancers can apply for:
The BFI, and the Film and TV Charity have set up a new Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund with £1m donation from Netflix. Look out for when it launches: https://filmtvcharity.org.uk/news-event/covid-19-emergency-relief-fund-announced/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=covid19-fund2020&utm_content=announcement
Arts Council England are making £20 million available to individuals working in the cultural sector, including artists, creative practitioners and freelancers: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/financial-support-artists-creative-practitioners-and-freelancers
What can I do to further the fight for more support?
This is a beginning, but it certainly isn’t enough, and there are lots of industry bodies and individuals fighting to make sure freelancers and the self-employed get the support they deserve.
IPSE and the Creative Industries Federation have put together a petition to create an emergency fund to support freelancers with income loss. The EVCOM team have signed it, and we would recommend signing it yourselves and circulating it across your network. Let’s get our voices heard.
Bectu is encouraging all creative freelancers to write to their MP asking for additional financial support from the government towards their income during this pandemic: https://bectu.org.uk/news/bectu-calls-for-creative-industries-freelancers-to-write-to-their-mps-immediately/
Helpful Resources from our friends:
The Film and TV Charity talks about financial support options available: https://filmtvcharity.org.uk/coronavirus-financial-advice/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=covid19-fund2020&utm_content=announcement
HMRC has published updated guidance on the Self- Employment Support Scheme guidance to clarify eligibility and provide more details of the scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
HMRC has also separately published details of allowable expenses, how to calculate trading profits and clarification that total income includes things such as dividend payments, pensions and any Government paid benefits: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-hmrc-works-out-total-income-and-trading-profits-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) has put together a comprehensive guide for UK-based freelancers worried about the impact Covid-19 will have on their income. This includes links to special HMRC helplines and broad advice on dealing with clients: https://www.ipse.co.uk/ipse-news/news-listing/coronavirus-ipse-activity-and-advice-freelancers.html
FSB offers advice and guidance for business and the self-employed: https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html
Bectu offers advice for freelancers working in film and TV: https://bectu.org.uk/article/covid-19-advice-for-freelancers-working-in-film-and-tv/
An open letter from the Creative Industries Federation urging the Government to support self-employed and freelance workers: https://www.creativeindustriesfederation.com/news/open-letter-chancellor-temporary-income-protection-fund-freelancers
Read the full report from the Government on how it plans to support businesses: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses