Virus-hit self-employed to receive second payment (BBC News)

More than two million people have applied for a single grant of up to £7,500 so far.

They, and other self-employed people, will be eligible for a second payment in August of up to £6,570, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.

It comes as details of the extended furlough scheme were also outlined. At the government’s daily press conference, Mr Sunak has now announced applications for a second taxable grant will open in August.

This will be slightly less generous, covering 70% of the applicant’s average monthly trading profits. It will also be made in a single payment, covering three months and capped at £2,190 a month, or £6,570 in total. Applicants will need to confirm their work has been affected by the virus, but they would not need to have taken the first grant to be eligible for the second.

The announcement comes after a cross-party group of 113 MPs signed a letter sent by Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh to Mr Sunak calling for more support for the self-employed.

 

BBC freelancers without coronavirus financial aid seek help (Guardian)

Hundreds of regular BBC freelance workers with jobs on prominent shows such as Match of the Day are pleading with the government for emergency financial support after they fell through the cracks between job support schemes.

Some of them have worked on long-term freelance contracts for the corporation for many years but have been left unable to pay their rent or reliant on handouts because they have been told they cannot be furloughed. At the same time they are also not eligible for the government’s self-employment support scheme because they receive the majority of their income from the BBC.

The corporation says it has received advice from the government that its public service operations are not eligible for the job guarantee scheme, leaving freelancers who receive the majority of their income from the corporation falling between two stools.

In a letter to the freelancers’ group, the BBC director general, Tony Hall, said he sympathised with their plight but there was little that the corporation could do, beyond honouring existing freelance bookings until the end of May and pressing the government to change the rules. The corporation is also facing the need to make substantial financial cuts as a result of the pandemic, with regular freelancers fearing they will be the first to be cut.

 

People who turned to Upwork to find freelance gigs say they’ve lost thousands of dollars to scams (NBC News)

Since the pandemic began, resulting in nationwide lockdowns, AARP’s fraud tip line has been receiving over 100 more calls a day than it did in the months before the country went into lockdown, said Kathy Stokes, AARP’s director of fraud prevention programs.

The scammers don’t start and stop on Upwork. Fraudsters looked on Freelancer.com for people who would be willing to hand over their Upwork accounts to be used to run scams for a cut of whatever is made. Once victims are in the throes of a scam, they’re implored to send money through peer-to-peer money transfer apps, like Venmo, Cash App and Zelle.

Upwork said in a statement that users agree to its terms of service when signing up, which requires all communication and transactions to occur on the Upwork platform. When users take their conversations off Upwork, the company can no longer monitor for or address suspicious activity, the statement said.

 

Bill would require gig economy employers to provide benefits for workers (Politico)

The Senate Labor Committee on Thursday advanced a bill that would require gig economy companies like Uber and Postmates to provide benefits for their New Jersey-based workers.

The bill would require companies to create a so-called portable benefits structure, meaning workers would be able to carry their benefits with them when they get a new job. If a worker is employed by multiple app-based companies at the same time, each company would be required to contribute to that worker’s benefits.

The bill, which advanced in a 3-1 vote, comes amid a broader discussion of how to treat gig workers in an ever-changing economy. After a drawn-out debate in California, New Jersey and New York are considering legislation that has the potential to redefine whether gig workers for companies like Uber and DoorDash should be treated as company employees, not independent contractors.

 

Music workforce faces ‘financial ruin’ without freelance support scheme (Classical FM)

If the support scheme for self-employed workers is not extended beyond the end of May, many working in the music sector will be placed in considerable financial difficulty.

That was the line from a new survey by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), which found a majority (57 percent) of respondents urging that if the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is not extended, they will experience either a ‘considerable decline in standard of living’ (38 percent) or ‘significant financial hardship’ (19 percent).

A few hours after the survey was published, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the SEISS scheme would be extended, with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570.

Two-thirds (64 percent) of musicians surveyed said they believe the extension of the scheme will have a significant impact on their ability to maintain financial stability, while a third (35 percent) believe it will make ‘some difference’.