Government Self-employment Income Support Scheme: take action

28 May 2020

In light of the Chancellor’s proposed support for self-employed and freelance workers, we’re calling on ALCS members to contact their MPs and share the proposals ALCS has developed to improve the financial plan set out by the Government.

UPDATE: As of 23 April, the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) criteria has been further clarified and outlines that someone on a fixed-term contract can be re-employed, furloughed and claimed for if their contract expired after either:

  • 28 February 2020 and a Real Time Information (RTI) payment submission for them was notified to HMRC on or before 28 February 2020
  • 19 March 2020 and an RTI payment submission for them was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020

This amendment addresses point two of our proposal, so thank you to everyone who has so far contacted their MPs about this. We do still have concerns regarding the rest of the Self-employment Income Support Scheme though, so if you haven’t already, please do get involved.

Read the full updated criteria here.


With writers’ and freelancers’ incomes at risk due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, the Government has developed the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which is designed to help those who have been financially impacted by the virus. Although ALCS has welcomed this announcement, we fear it will still leave many writers without an income for many months. As a result, we’re asking ALCS members to share our concerns and proposed amendments to the scheme with their MPs.

Taking action is easy. All you have to do is visit members.parliament.uk, where you can search for your MP, find their email address and contact them directly by email using the following suggested text:

 

Dear <name of your MP>

Please pardon me for getting in touch when you must be overwhelmed right now. I am writing to ask for your help over the gaps in the Government plan for the self-employed and freelancers, like authors, during the Coronavirus crisis. Under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), I’m afraid it has become clear that many freelancers will be left unprotected at this time.

As my MP, I am asking you to consider the key areas of concern the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), which represents over 100,000 authors and writers, has set out below and write to the Chancellor asking for these gaps to be addressed.

Proposal from ALCS

  • People who are part-employed and self-employed cannot qualify for both the JRS and SEISS, meaning that their normal income is not fairly reflected. Many freelancers – including writers and authors – would normally draw their income from a range of sources and will be unfairly disadvantaged by this. People should be able to claim for both or, at the very least if a person can only claim from either the JRS or SEISS, the income that would have been covered by the other should be accommodated.
  • Many self-employed people and freelancers structure their affairs so that they can draw down their income in dividends from limited, personal service companies. They currently have no support under JRS or SEISS, but include a large part of the UK’s creative workforce. These people are often not high-earners and being forced to rely on Universal Credit cannot be just. The Government should correct this unfair exclusion as soon as possible.
  • Self-employed workers with ongoing expenses, such as workspace and equipment rent, are disadvantaged by SEISS, which focuses on taxable profits. It would be simpler and fairer, given that there is a £2,500 upper limit, to take gross income not profits into account.
  • Recently self-employed people will also be at a disadvantage, as their income may not be properly reflected in their 2018-19 tax return or they may indeed not have one yet. As well as extending the deadline for filing 2018-19 returns for four weeks, the Chancellor should allow people to submit a 2019-20 return early and have their income assessed on this basis.
  • SEISS’ £50,000 upper threshold is unfair, when there is no equivalent in JRS. Many in the creative industries in London and the South East can earn over this, without being ‘super rich’ or having large savings. We understand the wish to exclude high-earners but this arbitrary threshold captures people facing hardship and no current prospect of work. Given the £2,500 cap, they really should not suffer simply to exclude a very wealthy few.

We are grateful for the support the Government has offered, but believe it can be improved to help self-employed and freelance workers, such as authors and writers, against the impact of COVID-19.

If you have any questions, please contact the advocacy team at ALCS: advocacy@alcs.co.uk

Yours sincerely


MPs will receive a lot of correspondence and in order to clarify whether their constituents are writing to them, they will often ask for your address to verify this. Typically this request will come in an automated response from the MP’s mailbox, but you can include this information in your original message or a follow up.

If you do take part in this campaign, please email advocacy@alcs.co.uk to let us know who you’ve written to.