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Budget for theatres: Furlough extended until September and freelance grant criteria to be broadened

The news will be a welcome relief for many in the arts sector

Freelancers making freelance work

Today's budget has unveiled a raft of new plans for 2021 spending as the theatre community looks towards reopening later this year.

The furlough scheme is set to be extended until the end of September, which will be a welcome relief for venues that aren't able to return to full capacity or operations even after theatres have been given the green light to reopen.

Employers will be obliged to pay ten per cent of staff wages from July, with that figure doubling to 20 per cent for the subsequent two months.

In an exciting move for a portion of those in the freelance community (though by no means all), Sunak will also open eligibility for the SEISS (Self-Employment Income Support Scheme) to those who were self-employed in the year 2019-20 rather than, as before, those who qualified as self employed in the 2018-2019 year.

A fourth grant will run to April (with 80 per cent of trading profits) and a fifth grant to cover through to September. For this fifth grant, those whose turnover has fallen by more than 30 per cent (essentially those hit hardest) will receive the full grant, whereas those who haven't seen a major fall will receive less.

As already reported, Sunak will also deliver a further £400 million to aid the arts sector as restrictions are slowly eased over the course of 2021.

Grants of up to £18,000 will be given to hospitality and leisure businesses who may not be able to open as swiftly as other non essential retailers.

A continued reduction in VAT for items such as theatre tickets will remain until September, with a 12.5 per cent rate from September to April. Business rates will be discounted by two thirds from June 2021.

Increased duties for alcohol will be cancelled, and will be frozen for the next two years.

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