We've written again to the Chancellor and others (DCMS, Shadow ministers, the select committee, local MP - Keir Starmer) with TM profiles of 700+ TM members who have fallen through the cracks.
Hopefully another step to humanising this crisis, and ensuring there are urgent adjustments to the financial support for the #forgottenfreelancers.
If you too are ineligible, and haven't yet let us know, please click here now to tell us which gap you've fallen through remembering we need additional consent to add your profile to the campaign below. We will keep fighting for you until this is solved. It's not over until it's over!
Matt, Sarah & the TM team
The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1 Horse Guards Road.
8th April 2020
The Talent Manager represents the biggest group of TV and film freelance professionals in the UK, a community of 100,000 people. Of these, more than 90% are now not working due to the crisis, and an estimated three-quarters* fall outside the eligibility criteria for your coronavirus financial support schemes.
These are established, highly skilled professionals who are responsible for keeping the nation educated, informed and entertained. Over 700 of them have asked us to send you their details – and work credits – below.
Without access to the crucial financial support you have offered others, their livelihoods will be devastated, and one of the UK’s truly world leading industries will suffer irrevocable damage.
We are urging you to make a few simple amendments to the guidelines of the JRS and SEISS which would provide a lifeline to these people, while remaining true to the spirit and objectives of your historic intervention.
Please help the #forgottenfreelancers
Matt Born & Sarah Lee
PROBLEM: The £50,000 cap on profits for the Self-Employed is unfair (there is no comparable cap under the Job Retention Scheme). About 60% of those who miss out on SEISS due to this cap earn less than £60,000 a year, and 90% earn £80,000 or less*.
LIFELINE: Raising the cap (if a cap is even necessary at all) would ensure an overwhelming majority of self-employed people would be eligible for the SEISS.
PROBLEM: Many TV & film freelancers do both Schedule D and PAYE jobs in any given year. As things stand, they will either be ineligible for SEISS (if Schedule D earnings are less than 50% of their total) or will receive only 80% of a fraction of their real earnings, and not enough to live on.
LIFELINE: HMRC will have information about an individual’s PAYE as well as Self-Employed earnings, so allowing both to be factored into calculations of average monthly earnings would ensure many more people and families are able to survive.
PROBLEM: People who have set up as Self-Employed in the last 12-18 months currently will receive nothing under SEISS or just a tiny fraction of their true income.
LIFELINE: Allow self-assessment tax returns for April 2020 to be included in eligibility for, and calculation of, SEISS. People could submit their returns immediately and it would mean thousands more receive some subsistence support.
PROBLEM: Many freelancers sell their services through Personal Services Companies (often at the insistence of their clients) and receive a combination of salary and dividends, paying taxes on both. Excluding dividends from calculation of average earnings artificially depresses what they receive under the JRS.
LIFELINE: Allow dividends, as well as salary, from the previous 3 years to be included in calculating average earnings. The £2,500/ month cap means the scheme is already means limited. This change would ensure many more people and families have enough to live on.
PROBLEM: The seasonal and piecemeal nature of TV and film work means many hard-working professionals have missed the 28th Feb deadline through no fault of their own, including those who had confirmed contracts starting in March and April that were then cancelled due to C-19.
LIFELINE: Widen the window for ‘rehiring’ so that someone whose last PAYE job was in January or even December - or had a confirmed contract starting after 28th February - can also be rehired and furloughed by that employer. The JRS already relies on companies self-certifying who is being furloughed, and this will ensure more genuine professionals are saved by your safety net.
*from Viva La PD Covid-19 survey of the TV industry (April 2020)