UK Music is leading calls for more help for self-employed workers that have been impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Tom Kiehl, chief executive of the umbrella organisation that represents the UK’s music industry, welcomed the package of measures outlined by the government to protect employees, but has urged it to consider the self-employed, who make up around 72 per cent of the music industry.
On Friday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to pay workers at 80 per cent of each employee’s salary, but is now facing political pressure to help the millions of self-employed workers who will not benefit. The news came just three days after Sunak confirmed £330bn of loan guarantees and a £20bn fiscal intervention including further business rate relief for companies.
In response, UK Music said self-employed workers should be offered the same help as other workers who will get up to £2,500 a month if they are furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Kiehl said in a statement: “While we welcome the much-needed help for those who are traditionally employed, the government’s proposals fall far short of the lifeline needed by the self-employed in the music industry and creative sector.
“The government should urgently look at setting up a Temporary Income Protection Fund for self-employed workers and freelancers. The self-employed make up around 72% of the music industry and are a vital part of its success.”
Yesterday (Sunday), the British government said it is considering ways to extend its wage support initiative to self-employed workers, but claims the move presents significant technical challenges.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Sunday that using the tax system to hand out wages to self-employed people was “logistically, operationally difficult” compared with helping companies.
He told Sky News: “There may be more things we need to do, the Chancellor is keeping it under review and considering what we may be able to do for the self-employed.”
UK Music concluded: “Many self-employed are facing an immensely difficult time and are worried about putting food on the table, paying their rent or mortgage and other bills.
“The government has talked about doing the right thing. It must now do the right thing and help protect the self-employed and freelancers.”