‘A risk to the long-term health of the music sector’: The ISM responds to Government scaling back furlough contributions and extending the SEISS

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement on scaling back the government’s contribution to furlough payments, and extending the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

'The Job Retention Scheme has provided much-needed support for the music sector, but scaling back the government’s furlough contributions risks the long-term health of a sector that contributes so much to the UK’s economy and global reputation.

With social gathering restrictions set to stay in place for the foreseeable future, there will be no immediate return to business as usual for large parts of the music sector, especially the thousands of music venues that require near full capacity crowds to turn a small profit.

Many businesses will simply not be able to afford employer contributions, risking bankruptcy and redundancies. The ISM is calling on the Chancellor to urgently reconsider his decision and extend the furlough scheme in full, and begin a national conversation about a long-term financial support package for the music sector.'

On the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

'The extension of the SEISS is fantastic news for the many thousands of music professionals who depend on this vital lifeline, and the ISM is delighted that the government has listened to organisations like the ISM, which has campaigned for an extension on behalf of our members, many of whom are self-employed.

But it is vital that the government also expands the scheme, to cover all those who have slipped through the cracks and have so far been unable to claim financial support from the government. The ISM has made a series of recommendations for how the Support Scheme can be expanded, and we are calling on the government to seriously consider these proposals.'

Notes to Editors:

Scaling back the Government’s contribution to furlough payments

The ISM will be writing to the Chancellor immediately to ask him to reconsider his decision.

Extending the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The ISM has written to the Chancellor on multiple occasions calling for the SEISS to be revised. Currently many musicians have fallen through the cracks and are not eligible for any financial support, including the newly self-employed, limited company directors, and freelancers operating through short-term PAYE contracts.

The ISM recommends that the government:

• Lowers the threshold of income from 50% to 25%.

• Removes the £50,000 cap.

• Allows graduates, those who have been on sick leave or maternity leave, or those who have returned to work in the past three years to discount years that do not reflect their current position.

• Extends eligibility to individuals who have been self-employed for less than a year or provide equivalent meaningful support to these workers.

• Extends eligibility to individuals who operate under a Limited Company and take dividends as a source of income or provide equivalent meaningful support to these workers.

Impact of COVID-19 on music sector:

Widespread venue closures have caused huge financial difficulties for music organisations and businesses, particularly live music venues and festivals, which have lost an entire year of trade. For example, the Southbank Centre, which is the UK’s largest arts and cultural organisation, warned that it will have used up its financial reserves by September, forcing its closure until April 2021 unless it gets further government support.

In April the ISM conducted a survey to understand the financial impact of COVID-19 on music businesses and organisations. Of the 70 music businesses and organisations who responded:

• 83% of music businesses and organisations reported that COVID-19 is significantly impacting their business financially.

• 33% of respondents reported that their business/organisation is at imminent risk of failing.

The ISM’s survey findings echo data published by various organisations in the creative industries. For example, according to research carried out in April by the Creative Industries Federation:

• 42% of creative organisations estimate that their income has decreased by 100% since the outbreak.

• 63% of creative organisations predict a decrease in annual turnover of more than 50% by the end of 2020.

• 1 in 7 creative organisations believe they can last less than 4 weeks on existing reserves.

The UK music industry contributes £5.2bn to the economy each year. Music is central to the UK’s soft power and its place on the world stage but the UK has already slipped to second place in the global rankings of soft power (Portland Soft Power 30 Index 2019). Access a detailed briefing on the impact of coronavirus on the music sector.

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 approximately 10,000 musicians 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]