ISM welcomes the Chancellor’s statement on help for the self-employed

The Chancellor has today unveiled a much-needed package of measures for self-employed workers who will be able to claim 80% of profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

The scheme will even extend to those who have only completed one tax return. The ISM is very grateful that the Chancellor recognised in his speech how musicians, through no fault of their own, have lost their livelihood.

The Chancellor said the grants would be available to the self-employed across the UK for at least three months, and longer if necessary. 95% of people who earn most of their income as self-employed would be covered, the Chancellor added.

Since the developments surrounding COVID-19 intensified, many freelance musicians have lost work overnight. A rapid response survey from the ISM in the last 24 hours revealed that 99% of the freelance musicians responding had lost a significant proportion of their income since last Monday.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

‘We are delighted to see that the ISM’s tireless efforts to bring the plight of musicians to the attention of the Chancellor and others within government as a result of COVID-19 have been successful.

Government has listened and announced financial measures to support the self-employed and freelance workforce, including musicians.

We have written numerous times to the Chancellor in the last week, engaged in discussion with key ministers, parliamentarians and civil servants in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on musicians, and urged Government to take action.

We will be looking closely at the package and advising our members and the wider music sector in due course.’


The ISM’s letters to the Chancellor and lobbying work is available at

Results of the ISM’s rapid response survey from 25-26 March 2020:

  • 97% of respondents have suffered a negative impact on their ability to work due to COVID-19
  • 95% of these respondents are self-employed (just under 3% are on zero-hour contracts)
  • 99% of these respondents have lost work since the measures were put in place last week
  • The amount of work lost ranges from 25% to 50% of annual income so far (with anywhere between £500 to £6000-worth of work lost in one phone call)
  • 71% of these respondents are very concerned about their ability to earn a living in the coming weeks
  • 64% of these respondents are suffering from mental health issues as a result of COVID-19 and their experiences

In addition to the mental health question, we asked respondents for further comment. The top worries focused on:

  • Being able to support themselves and their family including paying basic living costs such as mortgage/rent, bills and food
  • Having a vulnerable partner at home who cannot work (therefore they are the only ones bringing in an income)
  • What the impact will be on the sector/profession due to the length of time this is likely to go for
  • The impact on mental health from the loss of social contact
  • Technology changes and adapting to online teaching
  • Pre-existing mental health issues which are now being exacerbated by this situation
  • General stress and uncertainty
  • The constant flow of worrying headlines from the media adding to stress and anxiety levels

The ISM asked respondents what their top priorities would be from Government. The answers included:

  • Crisis funds
  • Financial relief from Government to ensure basic living costs such as mortgage/rent, food and bills can be paid for
  • Measures ensuring the self-employed workforce will be treated the same as the employed workforce
  • Remuneration of 80% of earnings lost from Government
  • Guarantee of sick pay for the self-employed
  • An announcement of any delays in bills and council tax