Covid 19 virus

Forgotten freelancers left out in the cold in new Covid-19 jobs package

An estimated three million self-employed workers will continue to be excluded from Government support during the pandemic, following an announcement made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak today (24 September 2020).

The Chancellor, who cancelled the autumn budget following a resurgence of the virus and new restrictions announced by the Government this week, made a statement in the Commons outlining the next package of support to protect jobs and the economy through the coming winter.

This included a new Jobs Support Scheme to replace the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) and an extension to the Self-Employed Support Scheme (SEISS) which ended in September. WGGB and other unions and organisations in the creative industries have been lobbying for an extension of the SEISS scheme for months.

He admitted however that he could not “save every business… every job” and refused to answer questions from MPs about those freelancers who had fallen through the gaps of Government support from the outset of the pandemic, arguing that the UK’s response for the self-employed was one of the most generous in the world.

WGGB Chair Lisa Holdsworth said: “We welcome this long-overdue announcement that the SEISS, which has been a lifeline for many of our members, will be extended. We now need the Chancellor to listen to the chorus of voices speaking up for those forgotten freelancers who will be left out in the cold this winter. There is real hardship out there and it is only going to get worse.

“Tourism and hospitality seem to be high on the Chancellor’s list, with the announcement today of targeted support for those sectors, but we’d like to see the creative industries given their due. They are worth over £111 billion to the UK economy, yet our theatres have practically been moth-balled, with no practical road map out of this crisis.”