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UK Music urges ‘immediate’ support as self-employed measures delayed until June

UK Music has urged the government to push for “immediate and urgent” help for self-employed people in the industry following yesterday’s (Thursday’s) announcement that the new measures would not be available until June.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined the measures that will include a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly profit over the last three years up to £2,500 a month.

The Chancellor said the scheme would initially last three months and will apply to those with trading profits of up to £50,000 a year.

The scheme would be only available to those who were already self-employed, and had a self-assessment 2019 tax return. Sunak claims it would benefit 95% of those who were self-employed.

Tom Kiehl, chief executive of UK Music, the umbrella organisation that represents the UK’s music industry, welcomed the new support as a “vital lifeline” for thousands in the UK music industry.

Kiehl said: “The help outlined by the Chancellor for the self-employed will be a vital lifeline to thousands in the music industry where 72% of the workforce is self-employed.

“It is important the Chancellor recognised in his remarks that musicians and sound engineers are among the many in our sector who have seen their work dry up and need support fast.

“We need immediate and urgent help for the self-employed. People are in desperate need with bills to pay. They need financial support now and cannot wait until June for the scheme to kick in or wait weeks for payments under universal credit.”

Payments will reportedly be backdated to March and are to be made to up to 3.8 million people.

Kiehl has urged the Chancellor to now outline interim financial help for the self-employed to help them until the support scheme kicks in in June.

He continued: “The Government should also clarify how this support scheme will affect mothers who have been on maternity leave and could lose out because their earnings will be misrepresented.

“There remains a need for support for those in the music industry that have not been self-employed for very long, including recent graduates, who will not qualify for this grant.

“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.”

Julian Bird chief executive of theatre industry trade bodies SOLT and UK Theatre, also welcomed the financial support for self-employed and freelance people, though “remained concerned” that people will have no source of income until June.

He said: “We remain concerned by the ability of people to access adequate funds through the welfare system until payments start to be made under the new scheme in June, and urge a rethink of whether some form of interim payment can be granted to self-employed people. Many thousands of people who graduated last summer will also not be eligible for the scheme, and will need rapid support.”

Self-employed people making more than £50,000 a year will not benefit from the new scheme, however, the Treasury has pointed to a range of other supportive measures people could make use of, including interest- and fee-free loans, VAT deferral, business rates suspension, income tax measures and council tax breaks.

The initiative matches that of traditional workers, who will receive 80 per cent of their salaries up to £2,500 a month if they are furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic.