The Federation of Entertainment Unions has written a letter urging the chancellor to provide more help for creative industries workers who "fall between the gaps" of the government’s Covid-19 support schemes.
Representing more than 120,000 people in the creative industries, the FEU includes Equity, BECTU, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, the Musicians’ Union and the National Union of Journalists.
In a letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak, the FEU says that since the announcement of the job retention scheme and the self-employment income support scheme, many members "have become increasingly anxious that they may fall through the gaps that have been identified".
These include people who mix both PAYE and self-employment and who do not qualify for either scheme, people who are newly self-employed and do not have a tax return for 2019 and the self-employed who earn above £50,000 a year.
The letter states: "Portfolio careers are common, mixing PAYE work and self-employment, as are large fluctuations in annual earnings and expenses, with an average income of around £10,000 being the norm.
"We have a large proportion of new entrants and graduates in their first year of self-employment as well as parents, carers and disabled workers who have gaps in their earnings."
It also raises the issue of individuals who have been encouraged to work through limited and personal service companies, as well as the upper threshold of the self-employed income support scheme.
"A large proportion of the creative workforce live in London, the South East and in other areas of the country where the cost of living is higher – some will have annual profits in excess of £50,000 [the threshold for claiming self-employed income support] but will be the only earner in their household," it says.
The letter urges the government to take the following actions to make its support more accessible:
• To adapt the self-employment income support scheme to accommodate for gaps in earnings due to parental or caring responsibilities
• To set up a new Freelance Worker Income Support Scheme for those who are PAYE workers but do not qualify for coronavirus job retention scheme because they were not in a contract on February 28
• To provide financial support for recent graduates and new entrants to the industry
• To remove the £50,000 earnings cap for the self-employment support scheme to provide parity with PAYE workers
• Provide clarity for D/deaf and disabled workers that self-employed income support scheme payments will not compromise other welfare benefits