The announcement of a package of support for self-employed workers has been welcomed by a number of arts organisations.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Thursday that £9 billion of Government funds would be used to support millions of self-employed people, who would get a grant worth up to £2,500 a month to help them through the coronavirus crisis.
But the support may not be available until June and it will only be available to workers who submitted a tax return for last year, meaning that the newly self-employed will be ineligible.
Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation trade body, labelled the announcement a “victory for the creative industries”.
She added: “It is welcome that the voice of the creative sector has been heard and Government is going to stand by the majority of the UK’s self-employed and freelance, as called for in our open letter to the Chancellor this week.”
Ms Norbury added that “interim relief” was needed to give workers “immediate” support and the measures must be brought in “certainly much quicker than the proposed timeline of June”.
The support package was labelled a “vital lifeline to thousands in the music industry” by the acting CEO of the UK Music campaign group Tom Kiehl.
He added: “It is important the Chancellor recognised in his remarks that musicians and sound engineers are among the many in our sector who have seen their work dry up and need support fast.
“We need immediate and urgent help for the self-employed. People are in desperate need with bills to pay.
“They need financial support now and cannot wait until June for the scheme to kick-in or wait weeks for payments under Universal Credit.”
The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre said in a statement that the support was “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,” it added.
The Association of Motion Picture Sound (AMPS) also praised the Chancellor’s actions.
Rob Walker, chairman of AMPS, said: “We warmly welcome the Chancellor’s announcement which will provide real help for many of our self-employed members.
“We hope as the detail emerges there will also be measures to help freelancers on frequent short-term PAYE contracts as required by HMRC.
“They are a significant part of our industry and have been left out so far.”