Call for greater protection for freelancers and creatives

Freelance organisations are calling for a temporary income protection fund to help the self employed and creatives to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

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Organisations representing freelancers have written an open letter calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to offer a Temporary Income Protection Fund to support the self-employed during the coronavirus crisis.

The letter, led by IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) and the Creative Industries Federation,  has already received the support of signatories such as Stephen Fry and Philip Pullman, alongside trade bodies including Enterprise Nation, the British Fashion Council, Directors UK and the Design Council. There is also a petition to support the fund.

The organisations have warned that because coronavirus is not only a health crisis but an income crisis – especially for the self-employed – the government’s measures will not be enough for freelancers. A Creative Industries Federation survey this week found that 60 per cent of freelancers estimate that their income will decrease by over 50 per cent in 2020 and a snap poll on Twitter in the last 12 hours showed almost 50 per cent of freelancers have already had 100 per cent of their work cancelled this week.

To support the self-employed through the coming months, the organisations are calling on the Prime Minister for an emergency fund that gives a time-limited and carefully targeted cash grant to the self-employed businesses and freelancers that need it most. They cite the example of other countries such as Norway, which has said it will pay self-employed people 80 per cent of their income.

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE, said: “Coronavirus is not only a health crisis, but an income crisis that threatens the self-employed in particular.

“In the last week, many of our members have reported having many of their projects delayed or even cancelled. Many we have spoken to say they have savings to last out up to two months of income interruption, but little more. The government must do more now, or risk an enormous blow to the £305bn self-employed sector.

“We are calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to set up a Temporary Income Protection Fund to keep our smallest businesses afloat during this crisis. This should give a time-limited, targeted cash injection to the freelance businesses that are struggling most. It is a significant ask, but it is what is needed to keep this vital sector going through these grave and unprecedented times.

“The Government must do more to support the self-employed now. They must not be left with a disastrous choice between their incomes and their health.”

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