The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has this afternoon set out his budget. The MU has been lobbying hard over the last few months for the following to be addressed:
- Extend SEISS and furlough beyond April for sectors that cannot return to work
- Adjust SEISS to ensure that all musicians are covered in future rounds of funding
- Open up the next round of the Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) to freelancers in England – in line with Scotland and Wales
- Introduce an insurance scheme for summer festivals and other events
- A subsidy for live events to happen with reduced capacity under social distancing.
A welcome extension and widening of SEISS
Today’s budget falls short of these asks, and we will continue to press the Government hard, but we are able to welcome some of the measures announced.
The extension of furlough and SEISS is good news, although we will be studying the detail over the next few days to be certain how the level of support will compare to precision rounds.
The widening of SEISS to include people who declared themselves self-employed in their 2019-20 tax returns is good news for some of our members – according to our impact surveys we estimate about 15% of excluded musicians.
It is however hugely disappointing that the Chancellor has not taken the opportunity to plug the other gaps that our members are failing through.
No mention of the CRF being open to freelancers in England
The announcement made yesterday that the Chancellor will be providing another £300m for the Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) is also welcome, but we are concerned that Rishi Sunak did not say that the new round would be open to freelancers in England.
Musicians in Scotland and Wales have been able to apply for funding from CRF money and it is essential that the same applies in England. We will be putting as much pressure as possible on the Government over the coming weeks to ensure that this does happen.
We will be sending a more comprehensive Budget round up email to members once we have had access to the detail but we would like to assure members that we will carry on fighting until every musician has access to some financial assistance.
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