Self-employed musicians: Financial guidance (COVID-19) Jump to main content

Self-employed musicians: Financial guidance (COVID-19)

What to do if you can’t work because you are sick or self-isolating

The Chancellor has announced that 'the self-employed can now access in full Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees'. In addition, government is increasing the standard Universal Credit allowance by £20 per week on top of the planned annual uprating, whether you are a new or existing claimant.

If you are already receiving any of the benefits being replaced by Universal Credit such as Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance and you need to apply for Universal Credit because of coronavirus, you are strongly advised to seek advice before doing so. For general enquiries please contact the ISM membership team; to assess your eligibility please contact Citizens Advice or the Universal Credit helpline.

In addition to Universal Credit, some self-employed workers are also eligible to receive ‘New style’ Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
Claims for ESA are normally processed in around three weeks, quicker than Universal Credit which averages five weeks.

Generally Universal Credit is only available if you and your partner have savings of less than £16,000 whilst ESA is available even if your savings are more than this.

Download our chart below, which describes various scenarios and what you are eligible to claim for:

Scenarios for accessing benefits (sick/self isolating)

What to do if your income has dropped

The government is providing financial support through its Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). We have explained this in more detail in a separate advice page.

If that is the case and your household has less than £16,000 in savings, you are eligible to apply for Universal Credit and we recommend you do. The amount of Universal Credit you will receive is based not only on your level of savings but also on your circumstances and the level of income of your spouse or partner.

The government has announced that it will temporarily abolish the Minimum Income Floor from 6 April 2020. For more information on this, see our advice page on Universal Credit .

Other practical steps you can take to address your drop in earnings include doing an emergency budget, checking your insurance policies to see whether you have any income protection cover and talking to creditors if you think you are going to miss a payment. The Money Advice Service has a useful guide.

ISM members have access to a complimentary, no obligation consultation with a professional financial adviser and our debt advice page.

Other measures to support the self-employed


If have an outstanding tax bill due at the moment and can’t afford to pay as a result of coronavirus, contact the HMRC dedicated coronavirus helpline on 0800 105 9559. Through its Time to Pay scheme HMRC can agree a bespoke repayment plan for self-employed individuals and businesses.

HMRC will also waive late payment penalties and interest during this period.

The changes to IR35 are due to come into force on 6 April 2021, having been postponed from last year.

Updated 19 February 2021