Changes to income support schemes fail to provide for freelancers again, says Bectu

29 May 2020

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement that the Self-employment Income Support Scheme will be extended and employers will have to make gradual contributions to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme,

Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs said:

“While an extension to the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is welcome, overall, the measures announced today will not help many workers in the creative industries who have been largely ignored throughout this crisis.

“Many of our members have had no access to income support throughout this crisis and still have no prospect of returning to work. Despite the government trying to provide for freelancers during the pandemic, ultimately it has failed as too many of them fall between the gaps of the SEISS and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The Chancellor has failed to reassure those people today by saying that there will be ‘no further changes or extensions’ to the schemes.

“For those who have received no help so far, and as our latest survey revealed half of them are borrowing money to survive, they will be pushed further in to debt as they still wait for assistance.

“The changes to the CJRS will lead to mass redundancies in theatre, film and TV, as many employers won’t be prepared to contribute for someone who won’t work for them again in the near future or they simply can’t afford the contributions.

“The requirement to pay National Insurance and pension contributions to access the CJRS will be too difficult for theatres to shoulder. TV and film workers on PAYE contracts – de facto freelancers – will also be hit. It is highly unlikely they will be returning to the employer who has furloughed them, and, as a result the employers concerned may cease to offer any assistance from that point.

“A Marshall Plan style of funding is needed for this highly valuable sector and to reassure these people that they have not been left behind.”