A week after the UK Government announced its package for workers on the payroll, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced an economic relief package for self-employed workers and freelancers.
The scheme affects a large percentage of those employed in the theatre industry and creative industries in general, the majority of which have been forced to stop work due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If an individual earns more than 50% of their income from being self-employed, has trading profits of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2017-18, and has a self-assessment tax return for last year, they will be able to claim 80% of their average income over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month.
Payments from the taxable scheme will be made from June but will be backdated to 1 March with those applying being paid for three months in one go. The Chancellor explained that the plan would initially last for three months although could be extended if necessary.
Sanuk said: “I am confident that the measures we have put in place will support millions of families, businesses and self-employed people to get through this, get through it together, and emerge on the other side, both stronger and more united.”
The Chancellor added those applying for universal credit should be paid within a few days.
Commenting on behalf of the theatre industry, Julian Bird (chief executive of SOLT and UK Theatre) said: “We welcome the financial support announced by the government for self-employed and freelance people in our industry – this is very welcome and much needed.
“We remain concerned by the ability of people to access adequate funds through the welfare system until payments start to be made under the new scheme in June, and urge a rethink of whether some form of interim payment can be granted to self-employed people.
“Many thousands of people who graduated last summer will also not be eligible for the scheme, and will need rapid support.”