Freelancers still missing out in Sunak’s emergency plans

There has been a broad welcome for the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s emergency Covid crisis measures announced today, but with serious reservations that the Self Employment Income Support Scheme remain unchanged leaving many self-employed still vulnerable.

Rishi Sunak announced that he was replacing the furlough scheme, which concludes at the end of October, with a jobs support scheme that will allow businesses to keep employees on shorter hours rather than make them redundant. The government will pay a third of their usual pay matched by the employer’s third. The scheme will run for six months, and there will be a grant for the self-employed on similar terms.

He was also extending the reduction of VAT in the hospitality sector from 20% to 5% for a further ten weeks, to March 31.

Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation, said the emergency measures were to be welcomed, as was the extension of the Bounce Bank Loan Scheme.

However, the unchanged SEISS meant that many of the sector’s two million self-employed would continue to miss government support. “Many of these people have seen all of their work dry up overnight, and it remains vital that they are supported as a matter of urgency” she said.

Supporting the criticism, Deborah Annetts, CEO of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said: “In addition, reducing support down to just 20% of average monthly trading profits will not provide an adequate safety net for our members when they are unable to generate any income at all.

"The government must deliver on its pledge to ensure there is parity between employees and the self-employed by maintaining the existing level of support provided by the SEISS and expanding the eligibility criteria. 

“These are dynamic entrepreneurs who will be back on their feet as soon as the sector can reopen, so any support measures need only last until the necessary safety precautions are eased” she said.

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