According to a survey by film and TV workers union Bectu, only 2% of individuals who operate as limited companies believe they are being treated fairly by the government.

The survey, completed by nearly 1000 people who run their own limited companies in film and TV, found that 67% think the government has treated them very unfairly and 31% believe the government could treat them ‘more fairly’.

Over half of Bectu’s membership operates as PAYE freelancers, sole traders or as a limited company.

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Only 2% of individuals who operate as limited companies believe they are being treated fairly by the government.

The survey found Limited companies that have set up a PAYE scheme paid themselves £11,290 a year as a salary.  On average these companies pay themselves another £39,000 through dividends which means that on average income from dividends and wages is just over £50,000.

People working in film and TV are often required to operate as a limited company by their engager. However, the government’s financial package offering support to the self-employed is aimed at sole-traders.

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) specifically excludes people who pay themselves through dividends from being eligible for up to 80% of their salary which is capped at £2500 a month.

Government guidance on the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was updated on 4 April to allow company directors to furlough themselves. However, the survey shows that many people pay themselves less than £12,000 a year through their PAYE schemes which doesn’t reflect their entire income and severely limits the financial support they are entitled to.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “Bectu has been highlighting this issue to the Treasury since the SEISS was announced and these findings show that they are not the high earners that the Treasury was hoping to exclude from these measures. Our concern is that without any support these people are reliant on Universal Credit which will barely cover their overheads or tapping into money put aside for tax bills and pensions.

“This group will also include those who have recently set-up as self-employed and will leave the industry because of this oversight. This can’t be right when people who are permanently employed are not being asked to make the same choices.”

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