Articles - 8th April 2020

Millions in UK ‘could slip through virus wage safety net’

Words by The UP team

Covid – 19 Sunak Urged to Urgently Close Gaps in Support for Self-Employed, (Freelance UK)

The chancellor is being inundated with appeals from supporters of freelancers to ‘close the gaps’ in his financial support package for self-employed people during the covid-19 crisis.

In fact, Rishi Sunak has received three letters from three leading MPs, all of whom urge him to help the many freelancers excluded from his Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

The letters; from Labour’s former deputy leader Harriet Harman, the party’s Caroline West, and the Greens’ Caroline Lucas, are on top of calls from industry for Mr Sunak to go further.

Equity wants an “interim payment from HMRC” to tide freelancers over until SEISS opens in June; IPSE says the £50,000 cap is a “sharp cliff-edge,” and CIF seeks clarity for new traders.


Millions in UK ‘could slip through virus wage safety net’, (The Guardian)

Millions of people across Britain risk falling through gaps in the coronavirus wage subsidy plan and benefits system, according to two of the country’s leading economics thinktanks.

After ministers hurriedly pulled together plans to increase the level of financial aid available from the state as the Covid-19 outbreak intensifies, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said many self-employed workers would still get no support, while others would be left financially better off as a result of the crisis.

The Resolution Foundation thinktank also called on the chancellor to expand the universal credit benefits system to support more households.

Highlighting sizeable gaps in the government plan to pay 80% of employees’ salaries and self-employed workers’ profits as the crisis mounts, the IFS warns that 2 million people who work for themselves would not be protected because: they do not earn enough from self-employment to be eligible; earn more than the £50,000 threshold; or only started out working for themselves within the past year and therefore missing the threshold to prove their past income to receive wage subsidies.


Uber directs drivers to jobs at Domino’s Pizza and Ocado during coronavirus crisis, (The Telegraph)

Uber is directing its drivers to jobs at other companies as opportunities for millions of gig economy workers dry up due to social lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The taxi-hailing app will start posting job openings for roles at companies including Domino’s Pizza and McDonald’s for drivers in the US through a “work hub” on its app, it said on Monday.

Separately, it is emailing hundreds of drivers in the UK encouraging them to sign up for delivery driver openings at Ocado, which is struggling to cope with a surge in demand for online groceries.

The gig economy employment model, represented by companies like Uber, has come under scrutiny during the pandemic. The company’s five million drivers are paid when they complete a ride, and are not classed as employees, meaning a recent slump in work has an immediate impact.

The company says it is providing financial assistance to drivers diagnosed with Covid-19, or quarantined due to it, although some drivers have said a lack of widespread testing means they are unable to claim this.


Coronavirus and claiming benefits: Everything you need to know, (ITV News)

Almost one million people applied for Universal Credit over the past fortnight as the coronavirus outbreak worsened and many are unable to work as a result, but what benefits are available for those affected by Covid-19?

ITV has done a breakdown of the help available for those affected in the UK. Have a read in the link above. 


Coronavirus support loophole leaves many UK film and TV staff without pay, say MPs (The Guardian)

Tens of thousands of film and TV production staff, both freelance and fulltime, left jobless by the coronavirus shutdown must be included in the chancellor’s coronavirus support package, an influential group of MPs has argued.

The cross-party digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) committee has written to the Treasury urging a rethink on Rishi Sunak’s measures so that more self-employed people are eligible for income support.

Sunak has said the government will pay for 80% of the wages of employees that are furloughed by companies under the coronavirus job retention scheme, and the same proportion of profits for self-employed people, with universal credit a final backstop.

However, the Film and TV Charity estimates up to half of the 50,000 staff that work in film and TV production, from directors and camera operators to prop makers and researchers, are ineligible for any financial support under these schemes.


All income wiped out for 42% of firms says UK’s Creative Industries Federation, (Screen Daily)

According to a CIF survey of almost 2000 creative organisations and freelancers, some 42% of businesses and 62% of individuals have lost all income.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of creative organisations are predicting their annual turnover will plummet at least 50% by the end of the year, with a similar number (62%) facing considerable cash flow issues.

In a letter to culture secretary Oliver Dowden and business secretary Alok Sharma, CIF chief executive Caroline Norbury said she welcomes the government’s “unprecedented” financial intervention but warned that access to the funds must come quicker.

“The crux of it is that creative businesses need money now, and they can’t wait another month,” she said.

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