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News Roundup

News roundup - 5 November 2020

Government extends Furlough to March and increases self-employed support –

Workers across the United Kingdom will benefit from increased support with a five-month extension of the furlough scheme into Spring 2021, the Chancellor announced today, 5 November.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now run until the end of March with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked.

Similarly, support for millions more workers through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

Lockdown 2.0 – New measures and support for small businesses and freelancers

With the nation facing a new coronavirus lockdown over November, our accountancy partner Mazuma has provided this guide with everything freelancers and small businesses need to know about the updated support measures.


525,000 UK jobs at risk as business events industry campaigns for roadmap to recovery –

More than 525,000 jobs are at risk in the UK’s £84bn (US$108bn) events and experiences industry and three out of four companies could fail to survive beyond next February, the Government has been warned.

The new warning comes after prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed England will enter a new national lockdown between 5 November and 2 December 2020.

The UK business events sector is operating under tighter restrictions than in any other developed nation and the impact on around 774,000 talented, creative professionals employed in the business events industry was laid bare in research presented to ministers.

Why culture and the arts are crucial to the UK’s recovery post-pandemic –

In the world of culture, 2020 has seen festivals cancelled, theatres and clubs closed, and many thousands of jobs lost, as a trillion-dollar global creative industry has been turned upside down. But here we are.

Culture across the globe has been devastated by the pandemic and the only thing we know for sure is that things will never be the same again.

It would be easy to see culture as an optional extra in the midst of the vast challenges cities around the world are facing. But that would be a grave mistake. Why? Because culture is the oxygen of cities – their life and their soul. It also creates jobs, boosts the economy and tourism, supports our mental health and, frankly, it’s how we define our cities – our culture is our story.

News roundup - 29 October 2020

Third Winter Economy Plan is still excluding millions from vital support, warns Bectu

With social distancing measures forcing venues across the UK to remain closed, the Chancellor’s third attempt at a Winter Economy Plan still leaves thousands of creatives excluded from government support schemes, Bectu said this week.

Full story:

Art and cultural venues get £75m boost from Culture Recovery Fund

The culture secretary has announced grants of up to £3m in a bid to save 35 of the country’s cultural icons, with £52m (70%) of funding awarded outside of London.

It is the largest boost from the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund to date.

Recipients of the grants include iconic venues such as Shakespeare’s Globe, Sadler’s Wells, the Old Vic, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the Design Museum and the Sheffield Crucible.

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Countdown to new tax charge for freelancers and contractors

Freelancers and contractors have just five months to get ready for employment tax changes that will affect how they work and are paid.

Self-employed workers affected by new off-payroll working rules got a year’s grace when the coronavirus pandemic began, with the introduction of IR35 delayed by a year.

The new regime is set to begin on 6 April 2021, a year later than the planned April 2020 introduction.

Full story:

News roundup - 8 October 2020

Freelancer average earnings drop to lowest level on record amid Covid

Freelancers’ average quarterly earnings have dropped to the lowest level on record because of the coronavirus pandemic, new research by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) shows.

IPSE’s report, How freelancers respond to an uncertain economy, found that the average quarterly earnings of highly skilled freelancers fell from £22,742 at the end of 2019 to £20,821 in Q1 of 2020 and £15,709 in Q2 – the lowest level on record.

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Hundreds of freelance musicians call for aid with Parliament Square performance

Some 400 freelance musicians have performed in Parliament Square to demand more targeted support for self-employed performers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The socially distanced protest, called Let Music Live, featured a rendition of Mars from Holst’s The Planets before the group held a two-minute silence.

Among the attendees were violinists Tasmin Little and Nicola Benedetti, conductor David Hill, cellist Raphael Wallfisch and clarinettist Emma Johnson.

A second performance took place concurrently in Birmingham’s Centenary Square.

Full story:

MPs to debate better support for creative industries

UK politicians will today discuss the contribution of theatres, live music venues and other cultural attractions to the local economy in a debate titled ‘The Contribution Of Theatres, Live Music Venues And Other Cultural Attractions To The Local Economy’. Snappy title.

Called by Conservative MP Nickie Aiken, the debate will consider what the government could and should be doing to better support the creative industries through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Full story:

News roundup - 1 October 2020

New fund unveiled for freelancers

Freelancers working in the cultural and creative sectors in Wales will be able to apply for their share of a multimillion-pound fund targeted specifically at those in the freelance sector hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The £7m fund, which opens for applications on Monday 5 October, allows individuals to apply for a £2,500 grant and will be open to freelancers in the sub sectors of arts, creative industries, arts and heritage events, culture and heritage, whose work has direct creative/cultural outcomes.

Full story:

Events and music industries increasingly vocal over UK’s latest COVID measures and schemes

Representatives of the UK events industry will today stage a protest outside Parliament in London over the UK government’s latest COVID support measures, which it’s generally agreed do little for those working in the event, live music and night-time sectors.

The protest preempts a day of activity around the world tomorrow under the #WeMakeEvents banner that seeks to put the spotlight on the terrible position the events industry now finds itself in as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There have been various protests and activities using the #WeMakeEvents hashtag since last month, though the sector continues to edge closer to collapse.

Full story:

ExcludedUK march in London to highlight plight

Campaign group ExcludedUK has joined forces with other key organisations for a day of action today to highlight continued need for Covid-19 support.

The group has arranged a socially distanced march through central London.

The aim is to highlight the plight of those denied meaningful support by government schemes such as the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme.

Workers excluded from government support include limited company directors paid mostly in dividends, people new to self-employment, freelancers earning more than £50,000, and freelancers who are paid on a PAYE basis.

Full story:

News roundup - 24 September 2020

IPSE: SEISS announcement is “woefully inadequate”. Government must do more for the self-employed, especially forgotten freelancers who face “dark winter ahead”

IPSE has responded to the announcement that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is being extended at 20 per cent of earnings. IPSE has said that although it is right to extend the scheme, in its current form it is “woefully inadequate”, particularly as it still excludes one in three self-employed people, such as limited company directors and the newly self-employed.

Full story:

The Treasury have once again overlooked the needs of the creative industries

Bectu has responded to the Winter Economic Update by the Chancellor today.

Philippa Childs, Head of Bectu, said:

“Despite the damage suffered by the creative industries during the pandemic, it is clear that the Treasury have once again overlooked their needs.

“The Job Support Scheme may help some employers, but it will not help to save theatres that are still not able to open due to government restrictions and are already making thousands of workers redundant.

“And the army of freelancers and self-employed who make up the backbone of the UK creative industries face being excluded from support once again as the Chancellor continue to turn a deaf ear to their hardship.

“Without more support the UK creative sector will not get through the winter, we desperately need a targeted plan to save jobs and ensure that one of the most productive parts of our economy can survive the winter.”

Full story:

Nearly half of musicians forced to quit industry amid coronavirus crisis

A third of musicians are considering leaving the industry due to the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, a report has found.

New research from the Musicians’ Union reveals nearly half (47 percent) of its musician members have already been forced to seek work outside of the industry.

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‘Boris needs to wake up’: UK’s live music industry pleads for help as coronavirus keeps venues shut

In 2020, the vast majority of venues have had no income since early March, which is now at six months with no revenue, according to the new figures.

With the lack of any footfall, and no revenue anywhere near their normal level local venues and the local jobs they support – from ticket sellers, to coach drivers, hoteliers to hot-dog makers – are all at risk.

The live entertainment industry is also calling on the government to provide a clear timeline for a conditional start date, a VAT extension to the recently reduced 5% cultural VAT rate on tickets, and an industry-specific insurance scheme so that they have the confidence to reopen when they are able to.

Full story:

News roundup - 17 September 2020

HMRC updates creative freelancers’ IR35 manual, with a win on substitution

New IR35 guidance for arts, TV, media and many other creative sector freelancers which was mooted last year has finally gone live, much to the relief of those who cannot substitute.

In fact, while the many new pages in HMRC’s latest ESM will please a full set of creatives, ranging from stage managers to film choreographers, the unifying victory is on substitution.

Regarded as hugely indicative of self-employment and therefore an ‘outside IR35’ position, this right to send a substitute in one’s own place is often missing in creative sector contracts.

Full story:

Nimax Theatres to open West End theatres in sequence from 22 October with social distancing

Like all businesses, Nimax looked at their business strategy post 31 October when the furlough scheme ends. As part of this, they looked at the financial and human cost of large-scale redundancies. They preferred to put the potential redundancy monies towards employment rather than unemployment.

In addition, a significant number of freelancers will benefit and freelance jobs will be created or reactivated: actors, musicians, creative teams, stage management, wardrobe plus affiliated sector businesses such as marketing, press and technical hire companies.

Full story:

Nimax Theatres to open West End theatres in sequence from 22 October with social distancing

Like all businesses, Nimax looked at their business strategy post 31 October when the furlough scheme ends. As part of this, they looked at the financial and human cost of large-scale redundancies. They preferred to put the potential redundancy monies towards employment rather than unemployment.

In addition, a significant number of freelancers will benefit and freelance jobs will be created or reactivated: actors, musicians, creative teams, stage management, wardrobe plus affiliated sector businesses such as marketing, press and technical hire companies.

Full story:

News roundup - 3 September 2020

Tax hike for freelancers would be ‘unjust, uneconomical and unbelievable’

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has said that the government raising Corporation Tax and National Insurance Contributions to pay for partial support during coronavirus would be “unjust, uneconomical and unbelievable.”

IPSE has argued that making the 1.5m forgotten self-employed pay for support they did not get would be unfair. It has also said that given the slump in the number of self-employed, just when they would usually be expected to be driving economic recovery, it would also be uneconomical to squeeze the sector further.

Full story:

Theatres must reopen to curb job losses, says West End star Paul Whitehouse

Cast and crew members from one of the West End’s most boisterous musicals have stood in silence outside their still-closed theatre, pleading for a date when they can reopen to full audiences.

The 15-minute silent stand by dozens of people involved in Only Fools and Horses: the Musical was, organisers said, a show of solidarity with those in theatre who have lost their jobs and income, and also an appeal for guidance and clarity.

“We need a date,” said the show’s co-writer, Paul Whitehouse, who plays Grandad.

Full story:

News roundup - 27 August 2020

Theatre Artists Fund raises £3.5m including a £1m contribution from Arts Council England

Theatre Artist Fund today announces that thanks to significant investment from Arts Council England, the fund is now open for its next round of applications. The Arts Council has contributed £1 million to the Theatre Artist Fund, following on from the £4 million distributed to benevolent funds earlier in the year as part of its Covid-19 Emergency Response Package.

Launched on 6th July, the new fund, spearheaded by Sam Mendes, was established with a £500k donation from Netflix. It offers quick, efficient and easy access individual grants of £1000 per applicant. Round 1 of applications closed on the 13th July and the fund has been able to provide rescue grants to 1600 practitioners from across the UK.

Full story:

Freelancers the key to boosting employment

Freelancers increase the opportunity to create more jobs in the UK, finds research from Trinity Business School.

According to research from Professor Andrew Burke, Chair of Business Studies and Dean at Trinity Business School, and Marc Cowling, Professor of Business Economics at the College of Business, Law, and Social Sciences University of Derby, the use of freelancers enhances employment growth by improving productivity.

Full story:

U.K. TV Industry Brings Freelancer Discussions to the Table

The U.K.’s major broadcasters and industry bodies have agreed to regularly discuss the plight of freelancers who are reeling after being out of work for the last five months due to the coronavirus induced shutdown.

Broadcasters BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky, UKTV and STV, below-the-line union Bectu, producers’ body Pact, Film and TV Charity, training body ScreenSkills, The TV Collective, Share My Telly Job, Directors U.K., Disabled People in TV, Viva La PD, The Unit List and Women in Film and TV formed a TV Coalition for Change and have signed an agreement to participate in quarterly discussions about how to improve freelance working practices.

Full story:

Over 100 organisations call for SEISS extension to help entertainment industry freelancers

Over 100 organisations have signed a joint letter to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for the government to extend support for freelancers in the performing arts and entertainment industries.

The letter, which highlights the challenges facing freelancers who make up one third of the creative workforce, calls for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to be extended past October until spring 2021.

Full story:

Staggering 87 percent drop in advertised arts jobs, as COVID19 decimates the industry

The ongoing coronavirus crisis has ravaged the arts and entertainment industry more than any other in the UK, research shows.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that job opportunities in the arts fell faster in May, June and July than in any other sector in the UK, with advertised roles disappearing by 87 percent compared with the same period last year.

Full story:

News roundup - 13 August 2020

UK theatres light up in red to raise urgent awareness to the industry’s crisis

over 100 venues across the UK came together to highlight the industry’s crisis as part of the #WeMakeEvents Red Light Alert Day.

With various pantos being cancelled for this year as well as the millions of professional at risk of losing their jobs, 70% of which are freelance the event urges the government to provide urgent support, especially with the closure of the self-employed income support scheme at the end of the month which threatens the livelihood of so many.

Full story:

Freelancer income fell by a quarter during lockdown

In the second quarter of 2020, freelancers’ average income dropped by 25 percent, according to the latest freelancer Confidence Index by IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed).

According to IPSE, the drop in income was driven by a record fall in the average number of weeks freelancers worked this quarter.

Full story:

British orchestras are losing £6m a month and fighting to survive

UK orchestras are losing £6m a month as they fight to survive amid coronavirus, new industry research has revealed.

The research also reveals the “bleak future” that freelance players are facing, with no work on the horizon and the list of concert cancellations getting ever longer.

Full story:

News roundup - 6 August 2020

Government announces details of the £1.57 billion rescue package for the arts

Arts organisations will be able to apply for grants of up to £3 million, with a total of £622 million being distributed to cultural organisations in this first round of funding.

Arts Council England will oversee £500 million to support institutions across the arts and cultural sector including theatres, music and comedy venues and museums.

Full story:

Arts Council England reveals details on how to apply for Culture Recovery Fund

Arts Council England (ACE) has revealed details about how artists and companies can apply for the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

At the moment, ACE is offering grants valued between a minimum of £50,000 and up to a maximum of £3 million, available to English organisations that are fulled registered at either Companies House or the Charity Commission with at least one year’s full independently certified or audited financial statements.

Full story:

Equity warns freelancers will be ‘left behind’ by government’s arts funding plans

Artists’ union Equity has criticised the way in which the government plans to directly support freelancers as part of the £1.57bn support scheme.

Equity said today that the new time scale and the £2 million were “devastating news”, with its “members left behind”. It doubled down on an appeal for the government to consider further support for creative workers, who are facing a “significant cliff edge” when existing measures end later this year. It added that: “funding made available to institutions must be attached to clear organisation-specific commitments to eliminate gaps in representation and pay”.

Full story:

Concerns expressed that government’s cultural COVID funding won’t reach music-makers

The music industry has cautiously welcomed guidance regarding the distribution of government funds to COVID-hit cultural businesses. However, concerns have been expressed that monies won’t filter down to individual music-makers, and that challenges will remain and increase for the many freelancers that work in the music community.

Full story:

UK theatre job losses rise by 2,000 in a month, union figures show

Job losses at theatres across the UK have jumped from 3,000 to 5,000 in less than a month, according to figures from the Bectu trade union.

The job losses include redundancies of permanent employees and layoffs of casual staff. Both types of worker are entitled to payments through the government’s job retention scheme.

Full story:

Council chiefs call on Government to help local creative industries

New guidance has been published to help over-stretched councils support their local creative industries recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest Government statistics show that creative industries, including small and medium businesses and organisations that specialise in arts, culture, design, music and TV & film, contribute more than £111bn to the UK economy.

Full story:

News roundup - 30 July 2020

A fund for theatre workers set-up by director Sam Mendes has raised £1.6 million. 

The acclaimed director of films such as Skyfall and 1917 and plays including The Lehman Trilogy and The Ferryman said the money will be used to support 1,600 freelancers working in the theatre industry.

Full story:

English music venues to receive £2.25m in emergency pandemic aid.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has announced plans to save around 150 grassroots music venues from insolvency while cashflow is limited for venues shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dowden released £2.25m for the sector from the overall £1.57bn fund announced on 5 July to shore up the arts in the UK.

Full story:

67% of gig workers would feel more engaged if offered benefits

Just under two-thirds (67%) of gig workers would feel more engaged and positive towards the business if attractive benefits were offered, while two-thirds (66%) said they would feel more valued, according to research by Aon.

The benefits that gig workers value the most are training and personal development (23%), sick pay (23%), income protection (19%), life insurance (19%) and professional indemnity insurance (18%).

Full story:

Photographer creates series of portraits of self-employed creatives who became front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Photographer Ali Wright curated the series of photographs to highlight the role played by self-employed theatre workers during the coronavirus crisis.

The series of portraits features actors, writers, designers, directors, make-up artists, lighting designers, opera singers and more.

Full story:

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