skip to main content

Impact Survey Identifies Key Gaps in Current Government Support for Self-Employed Workers

Our survey has found that a significant number of our members – the majority of whom are self-employed – will struggle financially, with two-in-five (38%) falling short of the criteria required for the Government’s assistance schemes.

Published: 05 May 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:30 PM
Photograph of the UK's HM Treasury building
We’re urgently calling for more meaningful support for those affected by disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Of those who do qualify, a quarter (26%) said they would still struggle to survive financially in the interim period before they receive payments.

Our research has identified key gaps in the Government’s current support for self-employed workers facing financial hardship as a result of the impact of COVID-19:

  • Those who are part self-employed (i.e. less than 50% of their total annual income)
  • Those who are self-employed for less than a year
  • Those who run as a limited company
  • Those with annual profits of over £50,000

We’re also concerned that musicians who have taken time out for maternity leave are being disadvantaged, since maternity leave is not being disregarded from the self-employed income support scheme.

We’re urgently calling for more meaningful support for those affected, including measures such as a method for musicians who are part self-employed (at less than 50% of their total income) to access the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and for the removal of the £50,000 cap.

The Government must consider how vital music is to our national community

MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge reacted to the results:

“We risk facing a devastating impact on the music industry. From providing us with the joy of live music, to teaching our children, musicians play a huge part in our everyday lives and to wipe out a fifth of that will have unimaginable consequences.

“We’ve seen other countries recognise this and, importantly, act.

“In Germany, the total package for the arts is worth £46.3billion, with the Government also promising financial support to micro businesses of up to five employees. Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland have all announced funds and aid packages for the sector.

“We are calling on our Government to take action by reassessing its SEISS package and considering how else it can help a sector that is so vital to our national community.”

Take action now

Ask the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to protect all self-employed workers, and ensure no musician is left behind. Find Rishi Sunak's contact details here.

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.

Dear Chancellor,

No-one should be left behind by Government support.

Please extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to cover all musicians and self-employed people who currently fall through the gaps in the scheme.

In your speech, you said that the SEISS would work for 95% of the self-employed and that those not covered would be the richer self-employed.

But according to a new Musicians’ Union survey, 38% of musicians are not covered by either your Self-Employment Income Support Scheme or the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

More than a quarter (26%) of musicians who do qualify for the scheme will also struggle to survive financially until SEISS payments are made.

I am one of them. The SEISS does not cover me because I [delete as appropriate: am newly self-employed / am self-employed less than 50% of the time / have yearly profits over £50,000 / operate as a director of a Limited Company / have taken time out due to maternity or parental leave]

[Use this space to share your personal story. Explaining how this is affecting you, and will affect you in the weeks to come, is more likely to result in a response or action]

As Chancellor, I am calling on you to:

  • Provide meaningful support for musicians who have been self-employed for less than a year.
  • Allow musicians who are part self-employed (at less than 50% of their total annual income) to access support through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
  • Remove the £50,000 cap in the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, as no equivalent cap exists for employed people, and pay people up to the cap.
  • Support for self-employed musicians who run as limited companies and pay themselves in dividends through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
  • Ensure that musicians who have taken time off from work for maternity / parental reasons are not discriminated against.
  • Speed up the Universal Credit application process up to cover the gap until support via the Self-employment Income Support Scheme is made available in June, or put in place an alternative method of covering the income gap.

Yours sincerely,

[Add your name and full address including postcode]


Written to Rishi? Now let us know!

Tweet about it

Share on Facebook

Discover more ways you can take action for musicians now.

Get MU membership today

From gig players to part-time teachers and professional instrumentalists, MU members can access specialist insurance for musicians. This includes accident cover, health schemes, travel insurance and car insurance add-ons through the Musicians’ Union.

Explore our member services

  • Get public liability insurance for musicians
  • Access expert legal support
  • Be represented in your profession
  • Access expert career advice, resources, and training events
  • Connect, network, and get to know the community of musicians

Learn about all membership benefits

Get MU membership today

Continue reading