Editor| 06 April 2020 Just over a week after they first asked the UK government to work with them to support freelancers in the nation’s creative sectors, the UK’s major broadcasters and producers have now called on the Culture Secretary to take steps to ensure they are eligible to qualify for  support schemes during the Covid-19 crisis.

Infographic of UK Hotspots fot TV and Radio specialists
UK Hotspots fot TV and Radio specialists

In a joint letter, ITV, BBC, Sky, Channel 4, Viacom and UK producers’ trade association Pact have written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport pointing out the risk of freelancers paid through the UK’s pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax scheme unintentionally falling through the cracks of the furloughing and freelance schemes recently announced by the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The letter — signed by signed by the organisations’ leaders in the form of Tony Hall, Carolyn McCall, Alex Mahon, Stephen Van Rooyen, Maria Kyriacou and John McVay — sets out serious concerns about this issue, which is of particular relevance to the television industry, explaining the circumstances in which “a category of freelancers will not qualify for any of the current government assistance schemes.” It notes that there is a category of TV workers who will not qualify for any of the current government assistance schemes.

For instance, there are those who are freelancers but who have been paid continuously (or just occasionally) via PAYE and will not meet the furloughing requirements — for instance because they weren’t on the PAYE payroll on 28 February, or their contracts did not have long enough to run after 1 March. There are also others who will not qualify as self-employed as they aren’t making profits via the tax system which can be compensated (as they are paid in whole or part through PAYE and will also not qualify for the corporate support scheme as they aren’t trading through a limited company.

The broadcasters and producers add that in part because of the fragmentation of engagement and lack of information held by any one organisation, only the UK government was realistically able to help this group. As a solution they have proposed a and puts forward a proposal for an amendment to the self-employed assistance scheme, which the broadcasters believe would resolve the issue without the need for the creation of a new scheme.

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