The Musicians’ Union (MU) welcomes the widening of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to include people who declared themselves self-employed in their 2019-20 tax returns. This was one of the Union’s key demands in advance of the budget and we believe this will help approximately 15% of the musicians previously excluded.

The Union’s Covid-Impact surveys have consistently reported that between 15% to 20% of musicians failed to be supported as a result of having been self-employed for less than a year. We are also aware that members aged under 30 were disproportionately affected by this issue.

The announcement that the Chancellor will be providing another £300m for the Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) is welcome news but this new round of money must include funding for freelancers. Unlike in Scotland and Wales, individual freelancers in England have not been able to apply for CRF money, which has left them at a real disadvantage. Too many MU members still do not qualify for the job retention scheme or SEISS and being able to apply for grants from the Cultural Recovery Fund would be a lifeline, as we know it has been for some of their colleagues in the other nations.

Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary, said:

“We welcome the extension to the furloughing scheme and the SEISS, and we are pleased to see that the chancellor has listened to our call for financial help for the newly self-employed. However, there are still a good number of self-employed musicians who do not qualify for the SEISS, and we urge the chancellor to ensure that the new money pumped into the Cultural Recovery Fund is open to applications from the self-employed sector. This would at least go some way to plugging the remaining gaps in the SEISS. In addition, we are also hopeful that the Government will agree to help our world-renowned live sector in securing the necessary insurances needed to enable gigs and concerts to take place in the summer.”

The MU will keep fighting until every one of our members across the UK receives vital financial help and the Government agrees to invest in musicians.

Our clear and powerful call on the Government to ‘Invest in Musicians’:

– Music is worth £5.8bn to the UK economy

– 38% musicians are falling through gaps in support

– Musicians are an entrepreneurial, community minded and highly skilled workforce

– Musicians have invested significant time and money into their career

– Without Government support, over 70% musicians are uncertain of their future in the music industry.

In advance of the budget statement, the MU called for:

– Extend SEISS and furlough beyond April for sectors that cannot return to work

– Adjust SEISS to ensure that all musicians are covered in future rounds of funding

– Open up the next round of the Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) to freelancers in England – in line with Scotland and Wales

– Introduce an insurance scheme for summer festivals and other events

– A subsidy for live events to happen with reduced capacity under social distancing