Budget 2021: Despite scheme extensions, gaping holes remain for freelancers

Bectu has responded to news that the Chancellor will announce an extension to the furlough scheme and partial expansion of the SEISS.

Late last night, news broke that the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme will be extended until the end of September, though the government will ask for a employer contributions of 10% in July and 20% in August and September towards the hours their staff do not work. The amount received by a worker on furlough will remain at at 80% for hours not worked.

Also announced ahead of the Budget, is that the fourth round of the SEISS grant will be expanded to include those who became self-employed in the tax year 2019/20. No other changes have been made to the SEISS, so while the expansion to new entrants is welcome, all of the issues that existed before look set to remain.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs responded to the news last night:

On the extension of the furlough scheme:

“The arts won’t reopen overnight so while it is welcome that the government has listened to union calls to extend the furlough scheme, the door must be left open for further extensions for particularly hard hit sectors like theatres, live events and cinemas.”

On including 2019/20 tax returns for SEISS scheme:

“Bectu represents thousands of freelancers across the creative industries many of whom, through no fault of their own, have been left with little or no support from the government.

“After a year of ignoring calls from Bectu and others to close the gaps in the schemes, the Chancellor has finally shown some flexibility for new starters in the SEISS. I implore him to look again at the remaining huge gaps in the scheme and to finally end the exclusion and misery of thousands of freelancers in the arts and entertainment industries.”

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