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HELP'S ON THE WAY FOR U.K. FREELANCERS

The British Government has pledged a helping hand to the self-employed music community, offering to cover the lost wages of those who are eligible for a minimum of three months beginning in June. Trade orgs have celebrated the news.

Similar to the measures introduced for U.K. employees last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has now said the Government will pay self-employed people a taxable grant worth up to 80% of their earnings. The grant is based on previous earnings over the last three years, capped at £2,500 a month, and is only applicable for those with average profits of £50,000 or less.

UK Music Acting CEO Tom Kiehl welcomed the measures, but called for immediate help for the self-employed battling to make ends meet, who can’t wait until June.  “We need immediate and urgent help for the self-employed,” he said. “People are in desperate need with bills to pay. The chancellor should outline interim financial help for the self-employed to help them survive until the support scheme kicks in. He should make clear whether the support will be backdated.”

Kiehl also raised the issue of mothers who have been on maternity leave, and may therefore have average earnings misrepresented, as well as the recently self-employed such as school graduates. (The scheme is only open to those who had a self-assessment 2019 tax return).

“We will continue to work with the Government to do everything we can to support everyone involved in the music industry at this immensely difficult time,” Kiehl concluded.

Association of Independent Music CEO Paul Pacifico, of applauded the government’s “speed and willingness in its efforts to support the most vulnerable at this time.”

“Alongside our industry partners, it’s great to see that the independent music community’s voice has been heard, and made a difference in calling for support for the self-employed. Now we must make sure that these measures are accessible, and implemented as rapidly as possible.”

Help for musicians from the British music industry currently includes the PRS Emergency Relief Fund, which awards grants to PRS for Music members of up to £1k. In addition, a £5m coronavirus hardship fund from charity Help Musicians UK is offering a one-off payment of £500 to eligible musicians. 

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