Articles - 27th May 2020

The next week will be disastrous for the self-employed if SEISS is not renewed

Words by The UP team

Self-employed face ‘cliff-edge’ income drop next week if support scheme not renewed (The Telegraph

Around 1.5 million self-employed workers face a cliff-edge drop in income at the end of the month when their emergency funding disappears as the Government has not yet announced whether it will extend the scheme. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said support for furloughed workers will continue until October but freelancers are not eligible for the same help as unlike employees in shutdown sectors, sole traders are still able to work. 

No 10 Downing Street is said to be unhappy with the Treasury’s reluctance to extend the scheme as the Government has said it would provide “parity of support” between the self-employed and employees. 

A Government spokesman said: “The Chancellor indicated the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) would be a temporary one when he announced it at the end of March, but it could be extended if necessary. The Government is keeping this under review.”   


Tony Hall says BBC doing ‘all we can’ to support PAYE freelancers impacted by Covid-19 (Press Gazette)

Freelancers are ineligible for the Government’s Self Employed Income Support Scheme if PAYE earnings make up more than 50% of their income.

Meanwhile the BBC has been unable to furlough freelancers on PAYE because it was advised by the Government that the public service side of the organisation is ineligible. Its commercial arm, BBC Studios, has used the scheme.

BBC honoured freelances’ bookings up to the end of May, paying 100% of the rate or £3,000 per month, whichever was lower, but some contracts such as sport are often booked with less notice meaning this did not help everyone.

Lord Hall pointed the freelancers to sign up to the BBC Talent Cloud for any opportunities that do come up, but said the BBC has also set up a Covid-19 fund to give out loans as “we do understand that there will not be enough work to sustain all freelancers in this way”.


The pandemic has shown that the T.V. industry can be fairer for freelancers (Broadcast)

While the picture is no different in the nations and regions, here the pandemic has had one unexpected positive consequence: access to commissioners and knowledge has been democratised.

Working outside the UK’s TV epicentre London has its challenges, with commuting to the capital chief among them. Attending a channel briefing or commissioner meeting, even from relatively close and well-connected Birmingham, often means an expensive train fare and sacrificing a working day.

TV faces uncertain times, but this shift towards online communication and remote working may have a lasting impact on how the nations and regions accesses the heart of the industry: whether it is producers thinking twice before hopping on a train when pitching over Zoom is just as effective, or freelancers pushing for a more flexible way of working.

By forcing us to reconsider how we communicate, the pandemic has shown how things could be done differently to make the industry a fairer place.


From The U.S. To India, The Gig Economy Job Cuts Went Even Deeper This Week (Forbes)

It was another tough week for gig economy companies with thousands of jobs cut once again, showing that the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns are far from abating.

Uber laid off a further 3,000 workers with plans to shutter 45 offices globally, which included many regional offices in the U.S. as well as its Asia-Pacific HQ in Singapore and cuts to European outposts such as its customer support center in Ireland.

In the space of just a couple of days, more than 3,000 people lost their jobs in the Indian gig economy and on-demand delivery business. As result of these deep cuts, it may present an opportunity for Amazon to inch further into the market and scoop up more business. Reuters reported this week that the e-commerce giant is launching food delivery operations in India in direct competition with Swiggy and Zomato.


Australia’s cultural sector is haemorrhaging money, but the federal government isn’t interested in stemming the flow (The Guardian)

Victoria’s Creative Industries minister Martin Foley was in a bullish mood last week, announcing Melbourne’s new Rising festival would come with a bespoke $2m commissioning fund for local artists

As the nation begins to reopen shops and schools, the cultural sector remains mostly shut, and haemorrhaging revenue. Early numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that more than half of arts and recreation businesses have closed. Grattan Institute number crunching models a 50% fall in unemployment in arts and recreation.

This is something for the U.K. to keep in mind as it slowly begins the process of reopening. 

The response of the states and territories has showed one of the strengths of Australian federalism: its ability to respond at local level where Canberra can’t or won’t. In particular, the emphasis on speedy grant rounds and simple paperwork has ensured that cultural stimulus has in many cases flowed quickly, reaching artists at the grass-roots.

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