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Chancellor Responds to Intense Union Lobbying for Additional Job Support Assistance

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today responded to heavy pressure from trade unions including the MU to extend financial support for workers.

Published: 24 September 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:31 PM
Photograph of the UK Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London
The extension of SEISS, whilst welcome, is set to only cover 20% of average monthly trading profits.

Although he confirmed that the furlough scheme will end as planned, he announced a ‘Jobs Support Scheme’ which will directly support wages of people in work.

The Chancellor also announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) would be extended to support viable traders facing reduced demand – covering 20% of average monthly trading profits via a government grant.

Developments that musicians should be aware of

Key points from the Chancellor’s announcement included:

  • A new Jobs Support Scheme, which will be launched for employees working at least a third of their normal hours, who are being paid for that as normal. The government and employers will jointly increase their wages to cover two-thirds of their lost pay and the employee will keep their job
  • All small and medium-sized businesses are eligible, but larger businesses must show their turnover has fallen during the crisis. Employers can use it even if they have not previous used the furlough scheme it replaces
  • It will run for six months from November
  • The existing grant for self-employed people is being extended on similar terms to the Jobs Support Scheme
  • A “pay as you grow” scheme was announced for businesses, allowing them to extend their bounce back loans from six to 10 years, reducing their payments
  • Businesses can also move to interest-only payments or suspend repayments for six months if they are "in real trouble". Credit ratings will be unaffected
  • The government guarantee on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will be extended to 10 years and a new successor loan guarantee programme will be announced in January
  • The temporary reduction of VAT from 20% to 5% for some sectors will remain in place until 31 March 2021

There are a huge number of outstanding questions to be answered

Our General Secretary Horace Trubridge responded to the news:

“Whilst today’s announcement is, of course, welcome for many workers, there are a huge number of outstanding questions to be answered. Our surveys have shown that 38% of musicians were never able to benefit from either of the previous job support schemes, so we urge the Chancellor to ensure that these workers are not also excluded from the plans announced today.

“We also need to see more detail of how the replacement of the furlough scheme and the extension of SEISS will work in practice. The live music industry has been put on almost complete hold due to the Coronavirus crisis, and 70% of our members are currently unable to work more than a quarter of their usual hours.

“If the bar for qualifying for these schemes is set at 33% of normal hours this will be a huge problem for musicians. These jobs are entirely viable jobs, they have just been completely paused during this crisis and the Government must act to protect musicians.

“The extension of SEISS, whilst welcome, is set to only cover 20% of average monthly trading profits. Is the Government seriously expecting many musicians to survive on 20% of their usual income for the next six months?”

Take action now

Join our urgent call to the Government to do more, in order to safeguard the future of the UK’s music culture and industry – ask your MP to make your voice heard in Parliament.

You can use our template letter if you’re not sure what to say. Remember to include how you are affected too – personal stories make all the difference.

Write to your MP now.

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