MPs on the Treasury Select Committee have urged the government to plug the gaps in its coronavirus support for individuals, which has left thousands working in the creative industries without any income.
In a report into the economic impact of Covid-19, the Treasury Select Committee estimated that more than one million people in the UK have been "locked out" of both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme during the crisis due to their type of work.
These include the newly employed, the newly self-employed, self-employed people with annual profits exceeding £50,000 and those on short-term contracts, the report said.
It acknowledged that the theatre, television and film industries, in which short-term contracts are the norm and which have high proportions of freelance workers who often mix PAYE with self-employment, have been particularly hard hit.
The Treasury Select Committee, which is made up of a cross-party group of MPs, said the Treasury’s interventions had been welcomed by many, but that the speed at which financial schemes were rolled out "has inevitably resulted in some hard edges in policy design and some critical gaps in provision".
Committee chair Mel Stride added: "The chancellor has said he will do whatever it takes to support people and businesses from the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Overall, he has acted at impressive scale and pace. However, the committee has identified well over a million people who – through no fault of their own – have lost livelihoods while being locked down and locked out of the main support programmes.
“If it is to be fair and completely fulfil its promise of doing whatever it takes, the government should urgently enact our recommendations to help those who have fallen through the gaps."
BECTU estimates that nearly half of creative industries freelancers working under the PAYE system will not qualify for government support, while the Musicians’ Union has suggested that more than 50% of theatre musicians are also missing out.
BECTU head Philippa Childs said far too many people working in the creative industries were falling through the cracks in the government’s schemes.
"The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee found likewise but action has still not been taken. As the report makes clear, BECTU has provided the Treasury with workable solutions to this problem so it looks increasingly like the failure to act is a choice rather than a problem which hasn’t been solved.
“We cannot continue to ignore this huge group of people who need government support now," she said.