'It will not be enough' – the arts sector responds to the Chancellor's new job support scheme
The scheme was unveiled today by the UK government
Industry leaders have responded to the Chancellor's new schemes to help support workers through the coronavirus pandemic after the furlough initiative is dropped at end of October.
The existence of both the newly configured Jobs Support Scheme and amended SEISS (to help the self-employed) were commended, though the policies themselves were far from favourably received, being described as a "devastating blow" and leaving "many hundreds of thousands of workers in events, arts and cultural parts of the economy with a grim future."
You can read full responses below:
DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:
"We welcome this economy-wide intervention from the Chancellor. However, it still leaves many hundreds of thousands of workers in events, arts and cultural parts of the economy with a grim future.
"The truth is, three times as many people in these sectors are currently on furlough than the national average, which suggests that the Job Support Scheme may not be able to stop unprecedented redundancies and many organisations from facing extinction."
Jon Morgan, director of the Theatres Trust said:
"The Chancellor's announcement today of the new Jobs Support Scheme will provide some respite for those theatres who are able to find ways of opening their buildings and of putting on work. For some theatres, this scheme will help them survive as it means they are no longer facing a cliff edge in their finances when the furlough scheme ends.
"But sadly it will not benefit most theatres and we fear that it will not be enough to stem the flow of redundancies across the sector nor ultimately to protect the fabric of our cultural landscape. Following six months without their main source of income, theatre reserves are already gravely depleted. With no way of reopening safely and viably on the horizon for many theatres, the future of the sector is still very much in jeopardy.
"Theatres Trust welcomes the Chancellor's announcement that VAT on goods and services in the tourism and hospitality sectors will be held at 5 per cent until the end of March. The extension of support for the self-employed, which make up 70 per cent of the theatre sector's workforce, is also welcome, although we hope the new scheme will plug the gaps in the previous provision."
Incorporated Society of Musicians' chief executive, Deborah Annetts, said:
"While we welcome much of today's announcement from the Chancellor which will help our venues many of which are on a cliff edge, it is a devastating blow for the thousands of self-employed musicians who have had no income since March and still cannot return to work while venues remain closed. The UK music industry is a hotbed of world-leading talent which makes a huge contribution to our economy and global influence, so it is vital that freelancers are not forgotten and measures are put in place to help them until they can work again.
"Many musicians have already fallen through the gaps in the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and will continue to be excluded under the new measures. In addition, reducing support down to just 20 per cent of average monthly trading profits will not provide an adequate safety net for our members when they are unable to generate any income at all.
"The government must deliver on its pledge to ensure there is parity between employees and the self-employed by maintaining the existing level of support provided by the SEISS and expanding the eligibility criteria. These are dynamic entrepreneurs who will be back on their feet as soon as the sector can reopen, so any support measures need only last until the necessary safety precautions are eased."
Peter Heath, Managing Director of Plasa, and co-founder of #WeMakeEvents:
"The live events industry welcomes the announcement of Sunak's new job support scheme, which will provide some form of relief for companies in the sector. Yet, with the increased restrictions introduced by Government earlier this week, it's looking unlikely that the sector will be able to return to work in a way that is financially viable over the next six months. There's simply no work to return to, with demand drying up in line with social distancing measures.
"As a result, the majority of businesses in our sector will not be able to generate sufficient revenue to support their contribution towards employees' salaries, nor will they be able to contract the huge self-employed community the events industry has become so dependent upon. This is why the #WeMakeEvents campaign will continue to highlight the plight of those affected until either government provides the requisite support or provides clarity on how current initiatives can benefit live events workers."