Government responds to industry call for freelancer support

Noughts & Crosses © BBC/Mammoth Screen/Ilze Kitshoff

The Government has responded to industry calls by bodies including ScreenSkills for action to support freelancers with a grant of up to 80% of monthly wages based on tax returns, capped at £2,500 a month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said those freelancers and self-employed facing financial difficulties would be able to apply for the grant based on average monthly profits over the last three financial years and will last an initial three months. He said all who were eligible would be contacted directly by HMRC and money would arrive by June – although they hoped to be able to act sooner. He expected 95% of the self-employed would be covered.

ScreenSkills has been supporting efforts to persuade the Government to deliver a package that will help those who work for themselves. It will be critical to see the details and operational plan for the package and how it will work in practice. We hope it will be possible for action sooner than June to help freelancers who need support right now and we urge the Government to make sure that the plan reaches all those who need help in the screen industries and that no one in need loses out because of anomalies in the system.

We reiterate our acknowledgment of the package of measures the Government has already announced for PAYE employees and the companies they work for but we urge HMRC to announce the details of how that money can be accessed as soon as possible, because companies are struggling right now to keep their employees and pay them.

In the meantime, ScreenSkills is providing practical support to freelancers, in particular, during this time with a range of online resources including training and advice on issues from mental health to contract law – helping the workforce with the immediate impact of the Covid-19 crisis and putting workers in the best possible position to return to work once production re-commences.


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