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UK biz reacts as furlough scheme extended until 2021

With his extension of the furlough and self-employed support schemes, chancellor Rishi Sunak has given firms a “valuable opportunity” to save thousands of live music jobs

By IQ on 05 Nov 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has offered little respite for the UK's suffering live industry

image © No 10 Downing Street

Furloughed Britons will continue to receive up to 80% of their salaries until the end of March 2021 under an extension of coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS).

The extension, announced today (5 November) by the chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, comes the day England is locked down for another four weeks to slow the second wave of Covid-19.

The furlough scheme was initially set to run until October, and was previously extended until 2 December.

Also extended today is the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) for freelancers, with a third grant (covering November to January) calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

The move – which comes just two weeks after the At a cliff edge report warned more than 26,000 full-time jobs will be lost before the end of 2020 without an extension to existing support measures – will save thousands of live music jobs.

“I’ve always said I would do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK, and that has meant adapting our support as the path of the virus has changed,” comments Sunak (pictured). “It’s clear the economic effects are much longer lasting for businesses than the duration of any restrictions, which is why we have decided to go further with our support.

“Extending furlough … will give people and businesses the certainty they need over what will be a difficult winter”

“Extending furlough and increasing our support for the self-employed will protect millions of jobs and give people and businesses the certainty they need over what will be a difficult winter.”

The furlough extension follows other support measures previously announced by the chancellor, including cash grants of up to £3,000 per month for businesses which are closed, £1.1 billion for local authorities, an extension to government-backed loan scheme, and an extension to the mortgage payment holiday for homeowners.

Stuart Galbraith, CEO of Kilimanjaro Live and vice-chair of the Concert Promoters Association, comments: “We are very pleased with the extension of the furlough scheme to the end of March 2020. This will give businesses a very valuable opportunity to keep hold of skilled staff despite not being able to trade under current restrictions.

“While it is also encouraging to see a better deal for the self-employed, we know more needs to be done to support the wide range of freelancers in the music industry and we will continue to push government to make more help available to them.”

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night-Time Industries Association, adds: “While the crisis deepens and we move into a national lockdown for 28 days, we welcome the somewhat belated furlough update until March next year.

“The furlough scheme will absolutely help preserve jobs within the sector, but the challenge still remains: where there is still a considerable void in financial support for night time economy businesses, will there be jobs to go back to?”

“This will give businesses a very valuable opportunity to keep hold of skilled staff despite not being able to trade under current restrictions”

He adds: “We appreciate that safety is paramount, but at some point we’ve got to consider the human element here and the immense pressure that individuals, venues owners, staff and freelancers are under at the moment, given the current financial, economic, cultural and social wellbeing environments that are being presented by government, particularly around our sector.”

Deborah Annetts, of the Incorporate Society of Musicians (ISM), particularly highlights the benefits of extending SEISS to many, though not all, of its members. “We are delighted that the government has extended the coronavirus job retention scheme until the end of March and is increasing support for the self-employed to 80% of trading profits across the November to January period. These measures represent a positive step towards the government fulfilling its commitment to deliver parity between employed and the self-employed,” she comments.

“Today’s announcement is the third change to the SEISS in a short period, following the ISM’s tireless campaigning on this issue. We told the government that their initial approach was insufficient and they have listened, benefitting thousands of musicians who cannot work while performance venues remain closed.

“However, as we have said each time the government changes the level of SEISS, the grant only benefits those able to receive it. An estimated three million self-employed workers continue to be excluded from receiving it at all, so expanding the eligibility criteria remains essential for preventing an exodus of highly skilled talent from our world-leading arts sector.”

 


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