ISM responds to Chancellor's 'Winter Economy Plan'

Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement today, the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts, said:

'While we welcome much of today’s announcement from the Chancellor which will help our venues, many of which are on a cliff edge, it is a devastating blow for the thousands of self-employed musicians who have had no income since March and still cannot return to work while venues remain closed. The UK music industry is a hotbed of world-leading talent which makes a huge contribution to our economy and global influence, so it is vital that freelancers are not forgotten and measures are put in place to help them until they can work again.

'Many musicians have already fallen through the gaps in the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and will continue to be excluded under the new measures. In addition, reducing support down to just 20% of average monthly trading profits will not provide an adequate safety net for our members when they are unable to generate any income at all.

'The government must deliver on its pledge to ensure there is parity between employees and the self-employed by maintaining the existing level of support provided by the SEISS and expanding the eligibility criteria. These are dynamic entrepreneurs who will be back on their feet as soon as the sector can reopen, so any support measures need only last until the necessary safety precautions are eased.'

Notes for Editors

On 24 September, Chancellor, Rishi Sunak unveiled his 'Winter Economy Plan' at the House of Commons.

A letter coordinated by the ISM and Equity and signed by over 120 organisations from across the creative sector was sent to the Chancellor on 19 August 2020. Covered by The Guardian, it called on the government to extend financial support for freelancers working in the performing arts and entertainment industries.

The latest research by the Office for National Statistics showed that the arts, entertainment & recreation is the worst affected sector by Coronavirus. We have the highest proportion of the workforce furloughed, the highest self-rated risk of insolvency and most decreased footfall.

The Government is working on a plan to reopen venues which may include safe alternatives to social distancing, specific testing programmes and financial support measures.

Further information


A recent survey by Encore (an ISM corporate partner) found that 64% of UK musicians are thinking about leaving the music business altogether. Since March, 40% have applied for a non-music job, and 41% of the 568 respondents hadn’t received any government support during the disruption of the pandemic.

On 7 September, the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee called on the government to extend the furlough scheme for companies working in the arts and leisure sectors to prevent industry wide redundancies.

On 8 September, the DCMS committee heard from industry leaders including Andrew Lloyd Webber who warned that the arts are at a 'point of no return'. This was covered by the BBC, Sky News and many other outlets.

On 9 September), Parliament debated extending the coronavirus support schemes and the ISM provided a briefing to MPs.

About the ISM

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally-recognised subject association for music. Since 1882, we have been dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession.

We support over 10,000 music professionals across the UK and Ireland with our unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services. Our members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds.

We campaign tirelessly in support of musicians’ rights, music education and the profession as a whole. We are a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation. This independence allows us the freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians. For more information, please contact [email protected]