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The Government Announces a Welcome Plan for the Self-Employed

After weeks of lobbying MPs and Ministers, the MU has welcomed the package of help that the Government has announced for the self-employed.

Sunny Westminster with cherry blossoms
We thank the Government and every MP across every party who helped to ensure that musicians will now be able to survive to continue playing that music for us. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The chancellor Rishi Sunak opened his announcement by stating:

“I know that many self-employed people are deeply anxious about the support available for them. Musicians...and many others, through no fault of their own, risk losing their livelihoods." And went on to detail the new Government measures.

Although the announcement contains good news for many of our members – we will be urgently moving to ask further questions about how exactly this is going to work, and to make sure that musicians don't fall through the cracks.

Highlighting the situation

We’ve been publicising the dire situation for musicians, highlighting the results of our impact survey that shows that musicians have already lost over £20M of income since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

Over 90% musicians report that their work has been affected, with job opportunities down 71%. None of this is surprising with the closure of music venues and schools and the cancellation of events and festivals.

Thanks to musicians who took action

MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge says:

“We have been fighting very hard for adequate compensation for our members, and today’s news is extremely welcome.

“To every member who filled in our impact survey or wrote to their MP – I thank you. We have never stopped pressuring the Government, but individual case studies have also been invaluable.

“With over 90% of our 32,000 members being self-employed, today’s measures are vital. We understand that implementing this system will be complex, but we now urge the Government to work to get it in place as quickly as possible. Any help that the MU can give in this process will be readily offered.”

We all need music more than ever

“I understand that many members are struggling with financial hardship right now, and to try and alleviate immediate strain the MU has set up a hardship fund. Members in genuine financial hardship can apply for the MU Coronavirus Hardship Fund for £200 to tide them over until Government support is available.

“We do, however, have limited resources so the fact that this financial assistance will be backdated to 1 March 2020 will be a real lifesaver for so many musicians.

“We all need music more than ever in these difficult times, and I thank the Government and every MP across every party who helped to ensure that musicians will now be able to survive to continue playing that music for us.”

What has been announced

  • The self-employed income support scheme will provide a taxable, lump sum grant of 80% of average profits over the past three years.
  • It will be open to anyone with trading profits of up to 50k who earns the majority of their income from self-employment.
  • Only those who are already self-employed and have filed a tax return for 2019 will be eligible, although you will have 4 weeks from today to file your return if you have not done so.
  • The tax authorities will contact those eligible for grants.

When the money is likely to come through

  • The Chancellor said that people should have access to this scheme by no later than the beginning of June.
  • Applying for Universal Credit in the meantime will NOT affect your eligibility for the package of help announced today.

Other sources of financial support 

If you are in dire financial need right now, please see our financial support page for details on current hardship funds for musicians – as well as more information on applying for benefits, and organisations able to offer financial advice.


Published: 26/03/2020

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