'A clear and urgent message to the government': The ISM responds to Treasury Select Committee findings that show 1 million people are locked out of government support

Responding to Treasury Select Committee findings that show more than 1 million people have been "locked out" of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), The Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said:

'These figures send a clear and urgent message to the Government that more must be done to support those impacted by Covid-19, especially in the music sector.

As the ISM has repeatedly highlighted, the reality for many thousands of music professionals is that they simply have not been able to access proper government support at a time when their livelihoods have been reduced to nothing. Unless changes are made to both schemes many in the music sector face financial ruin, which will cause irreparable damage to the long-term health of music in this country.

The ISM is calling on the Chancellor to extend the furlough scheme in full, and amend the SEISS so that no-one falls through the cracks. We must not risk the long-term future of the music sector, which contributes so much to the UK economy and provides vital sustenance for the very soul of our country.'

Notes to Editors:

Scaling back the Government’s contribution to furlough payments


The ISM has written to the Chancellor 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]