The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been a vital lifeline for eligible musicians. However our research found that one-third of musicians did not receive it and 60% of performers said they faced significant financial hardship as a result. Aiding a further 1.3 million self-employed people would be just 1% of the total cost to date of the current SEISS and furlough support schemes, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
As part of our campaign for improved support during the pandemic, we are making the case that the Government should lower the threshold of income from self-employment from 50% to 25%. This is because our research found that nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said they were not eligible to receive the SEISS because less than half of their income came from self-employed work. In addition, we recommend removing the £50,000 cap on earnings, which has no equivalent cap for the furlough scheme.
Finally, the Government must either extend the eligibility criteria or develop suitable alternative support for individuals who operate under a Limited Company and take dividends. Similarly, the current system does not fairly calculate the level of support for graduates, those who have been on sick leave and those who have otherwise returned to work recently.
Most recently, the Chancellor announced in the Budget in March 2021 that:
- a fourth grant worth 80% of average trading profits of up to £7,500, covering the period of February to April.
- a fifth grant will be made available from July, for a further period of three months. Individuals whose turnover fell by 30% will continue to receive the full 80% grant, and those whose turnover has fallen less will receive a reduced 30% grant.
- 600,000 more people can claim for the fourth and fifth grants as newly self-employed - provided a tax return was completed by midnight last night.
Supporting the excluded
ExcludedUK estimates that there are around 3 million people who are ineligible to receive furlough money or Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants.
- 1.6 million are self-employed people who do not meet the current criteria for support
- 710,000 are limited company directors who are ineligible for furlough payments
- 790,000 are other company employees who are also not able to receive furlough payments
The 1.3 million people identified by the Institute for Fiscal Studies are self-employed workers who receive under 50% of their income from their self-employment. This affects a large number of musicians and arts professionals whose portfolio careers mean they have a mixture of employed and self-employed income.