Industry bodies call for help for 5 million freelancers

designThe Creative Industries Federation has joined forces with nearly 30 industry bodies to urge Chancellor Rishi Sunak to set up a temporary income protection fund to benefit freelancers and the self-employed following fears that the 5 million people who work for themselves could be left financially crippled by the Covid-19 crisis.

The move, which follows last week’s call for the industry to rally round freelancers, has been sparked by the fact that self-employed people are not entitled to the same financial assistance as PAYE workers; in fact all they can claim is Universal Credit.

On Friday, Sunak vowed to cover 80% of the salary of all PAYE staff affected by the coronavirus, in a bid to persuade employers not to start mass lay-offs.

In an open letter, the Federation said: “The package of support for employers and employees announced on Friday 20th March was unprecedented and welcome.

“However, it creates a worrying inequity between those who now have their income secured and the UK’s 5 million self-employed workers, who are left despondent. While employees are entitled to claim 80% of their monthly salary up to £2,500, by contrast self-employed workers are eligible for just £408 per month of government support via Universal Credit.”

The Federation’s letter, backed by the PPA, the Design Council, UK Music,  Musicians Union and Equity, but not a single marketing trade body, is calling for all self-employed workers to be paid a monthly income matching their average existing earnings over the past three years. It wants a minimum set by the Real Living Wage (£1,100) and a cap put in place at average UK earnings after the basic rate of income tax is applied (£1,800).

The letter concludes: “Our self-employed workforce are a source of incredible creativity, agility, and innovation. It is vital that they receive support equal to employees and collectively explore, given this difficult time, how such talent could be employed and redeployed to help the national effort.”

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