Write to your local MP: Musicians excluded from financial support

We are aware that many of our membership continue to be excluded from the financial support packages the government has introduced since the start of the pandemic.

We continue to lobby the government to improve the forms of support to include freelance musicians who have been excluded since April 2020.

Writing to your local MP will assist us in our lobbying work and with more people pressuring the government on the same issue, we are more likely to get a response and action. You can read more about our advice on writing letters before you get started. Your first-hand experiences are vital for persuading politicians to support our campaigns. So make sure to use your own situation and experience to make it more personal.

If you send an e-mail to your local MP, please cc us in at [email protected] and do contact us to share your feedback about our template letter, or if you would like to know more about campaigning work.

Template letter

[Address of local MP]

[date]

Dear [insert local MP name]

RE: Financial support for excluded musicians

As one of your constituents, I am writing to ask if you will contact The Treasury on my behalf urging the government to introduce financial support for those who have been excluded from the existing schemes since April. I know that my professional body, the Incorporated Society of Musicians has been campaigning on this issue for some time and was disappointed the issue was not resolved in the 2021 Budget.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the music industry and threatened the livelihoods of musicians across the UK. The ONS reported that the arts, entertainment & recreation is the worst affected sector by coronavirus and the situation for us as musicians is particularly concerning.

Venues in our constituency were not able to platform my work or open to audiences due to safety restrictions or because, while permitted, it was not economical to do so with reduced audience capacity. [Insert short description of personal circumstances and the importance of music in your constituency]

With venues closed, most musicians have been unable to work and they remain dependent on government support schemes. For thousands of people, the SEISS has been a vital lifeline. However, the grant only benefits those eligible to receive it and it cannot be forgotten that an estimated three million self-employed workers continue to be excluded. Similarly, while the Cultural Recovery Fund was a welcome announcement from the government, it has done very little to support freelance musicians. Therefore, further measures are essential for preventing an exodus of highly skilled talent from our world-leading arts sector and these can be affordable. In fact, the Institute for Fiscal Studies published a recent report which showed that the cost for extending support to those excluded would be extremely low. The research suggests financial support could be provided for 1.3 million of those excluded from existing measures, for as little as 1% of the cost of the SEISS and furlough schemes.

There is a precedent for addressing the gaps in the financial support schemes for those excluded. On 23 November 2020, the Northern Ireland Assembly announced it would introduce £20m for company directors, a group that has been excluded from previous support. This has given me the confidence that something can be done to offer meaningful income for those of us who remain excluded.

The future of the sector for musicians looks very unclear. The recent Spending Review failed to recognise the economic value of the cultural industries. Furthermore, while the new Levelling Up Fund covers local arts and culture, this social infrastructure is too important to be included in the same funding allocation as transport infrastructure. We now need a clear roadmap for the return of live performance in 2021, which must start with the provision of financial support for those excluded.

Please will you write to the Treasury making the case that financial support for those excluded is vital to the protection of musicians’ livelihoods who have been left without meaningful income since March 2020?

I hope you will seriously consider my request to help support musicians like myself and others across [insert constituency] to get back on their feet and start earning again during these difficult times.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]