Income support for freelancers and the self-employed announced in the UK

We have begun collating helpful information, support networks and creative initiatives to get involved with as a community. Updated daily, so please check back in.

26 March 2020
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11 minute read


Income support update for self-employed

(26 March 2020)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced the UK Government’s plans to financially support those who are self-employed and “adversely affected by the coronavirus”.

Following the announcement of plans for those in full-time employment last Friday, there has been little information of support for the self-employed community, who make up a large swathe of the creative industry – and keep it ticking.

However, today, the Chancellor announced the self-employed income support scheme which will pay those eligible “a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average income over the last three years”. This will be up to £2,500 a month – the same amount for those in full-time employment – for at least three months, and for those with average profits of £50,000 or less.

According to a Twitter thread by HM Treasury, those who are self-employed and are eligible will be able to directly apply to HMRC for the grant. In reports made by The Guardian during Sunak’s announcement, the scheme “will be open to people who make the majority of their income from self-employment”, also pointing out how, “to avoid fraud, it will only be open to people who are already self-employed and have a tax return from 2019.”

However, some questions remain about how quickly self-employed people will be able to access these grants. According to, grants “will be paid in a single lump sum instalment covering all three months, and will start to be paid at the beginning of June” – raising questions around how people are supposed to support themselves until then.

In addition to these plans laid out for those who work for themselves, the government announced it has also adapted the welfare system so that self-employed people can fully access Universal Credit, as well as making new opportunities to access business interruption loans. Sunak described this income support scheme – for people who are self-employed, either freelance or running a small business – as being “equivalent to the support available to the employed”.

Full information from can be found here and you can watch the Chancellor’s announcement here.

Updates and initiatives to get involved with

(25 March 2020)

An illustrated guide to the current situation in the US

New York-based artist Danny Cole has put together an online illustrative pamphlet detailing information about Covid-19, titled Why Are We Inside? Gathering his facts from Imperial College Epidemic Modelling Simulation, it features information that provides a little clarity on the current crisis situation, largely around the question of: “What happens if the US does nothing?”

Engage in a new learning opportunity

The Brixton Finishing School, a ten week-long digital creative accelerator programme for underrepresented young people working in advertising and media, has launched a virtual course for those in isolation.

Classes will begin on 29 June 2020 and students will be selected via “online taster sessions”. You can register your interest below.

Join in on an online film festival – with discussion too!

Launched last week as countries across the world were told to social distance, and now completely stay at home, Viral Film Festival is a chance to watch and discuss films online. Scheduled for every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night (peak cinema viewing time we think) its organisers announce the evening’s scheduled film, tell you where to view it and at what time. Afterwards, you can join VFF’s organisers over Instagram Live to discuss the classic.

Having already shown Thelma & Louise, Rosemary’s Baby, Now, Voyager and Three Colours: Red last weekend, upcoming from tomorrow is Erin Brockovich, Network and North by Northwest.

Check out and (purchase works from!) an online art show

We’ve longed to visit Good Mother Gallery based in LA and now we can via its new digital show, Be Yourself With Everyone. Showcasing a few artists every day via its Instagram channel, the creatives featured span different disciplines and locations too. Each of the artworks is for sale, supporting both the artists and Good Mother Gallery, which has also set up a Go Fund Me page following its closure. Today’s artists includes Ones to Watch from 2019 and current illustrator of the It's Nice That Weekly Comic, Haein Kim.

(24 March 2020)

Sign a petition for an emergency fund to support freelancer’s income loss

The Creative Industries Federation, along with the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), have begun a petition for a Temporary Income Protection Fund to aid freelancers during the coronavirus crisis. “Freelancers will not just lose income while they are ill or self-isolating: many are also losing work and contracts over the coming months,” reads the petition. “The Budget measures give some support, but not enough.”

It’s very close to reaching its target and you can sign below.

Have a film recommended by the knowledgeable team at Little White Lies

As we spend more and more time at home, it understandably becomes increasingly difficult to know what to watch. Thankfully, the reputable team at Little White Lies is offering a recommendation email service for films. Simply e-mail the team, describe what you’re in the mood for and a member of its editorial team will get back to you with a recommendation!

Opportunities for graduating photography students

Photography agency Wyatt Clarke + Jones is offering free virtual portfolio reviews to third year photography students. Send over your portfolio (as a PDF) to with “third year photography student” in the subject line. “We know many of you have had your degree shows cancelled or postponed, so we are looking to help you!” says the agency.

Sign yourself up for Hato Press’ Zine Subscription service

Hato Press has launched its own Zine Series, an annual zine subscription package. Available to buy as a one-off or as a six or 12-month subscription, a new release will be added every month.

Already available is FaceTime Love by Kentaro Okawara – Hato’s first project with the artist. This is followed by You Say Volvo I Say Potato by Michael Marriott and Exquisite Plants by artistic duo Chiaozza. It’s both a great way to support the independent publisher and nab yourself one of these limited runs (of 100).

(23 March 2020)

Digital Culture Network are offering digital tips for businesses

If you or your business are finding it difficult to shift to working from home and fully digitally, it may be worth getting in contact with The Arts Council England’s Digital Culture Network. Set up to develop organisations’ digital skills within the arts and culture sector, in light of the current situation it is offering help with working and collaborating remotely through to maximising website offers. Soon to come are also free resources and webinars.

Advice specifically for freelancers concerned about money

Writer Roberta Hollis has set up a Covid-19 freelance support newsletter, which you can subscribe to here. Roberta has also been sharing helpful advice for freelancers in her position over Instagram, including “Five things UK freelancers can do if you’re worried about money”.

Sell your work and support other artists at the same time

Artist Matthew Burrows has set up Artist Support Pledge to combat the drop in exhibition sales for creatives. “The concept is a simple one,” says Matthew. “Artists post images of their work, on Instagram, which they are willing to sell for no more than £200 each.” Then, when an artist reaches the sum of £1,000 in sales, they pledge to buy another artist’s work for £200.

If you’re an artist and interested in selling your works just make a pledge and post your work with #artistsupportpledge. Found via illustrator Oscar Mitchell, who is currently selling his Farmfoods collections – amazing.

50 jobs for 50 freelancers

Festival The Good Life Experience has set up an initiative titled The 50 / 50 Project. Over the next 50 days they will commission 50 paid jobs for 50 freelance creatives. Head to the festival’s for further information.

Support for art galleries, artists and art workers in New York

New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) have started a petition to New York mayor Bill de Blasio asking for further support to New York-based galleries, artists and art workers. You can read more about how it is difficult for these businesses to qualify for the small business initiatives set up by the mayor, and support the petition below.

Start an art class led by Jon Burgerman

Everyone’s favourite doodler, Jon Burgerman, has set up his own “stay-at-home online arts club thing”, It’s Great To Create. Hosted on his YouTube chanJon is setting creative tasks every few days, which you can join in with. Subtitles also include English, Korean, Spanish and Italian.

Head to a gallery, via Google

Google Arts and Culture has opened up its online art collections, allowing you to explore digitally a range of museums, from MoMA to The Met, the Tate Britain, Milan’s Museo del Novescento and Whitney Museum of American Art, to name only a few. While we may not be able to travel physically to these cultural hubs for the time being, you can navigate these spaces via a map of the world and discover new artists and cultural highlights from Colombia to Canada, Portugal, Nigeria, South Korea and more.

Financial information and guidance for creatives in the UK

Further practical advice for creatives, whether you’re a small business or self-employed, can be found here. Below are some key initiatives which may be useful in more detail.

Universal Credit

Freelancers make up a large and vital part of the creative community but have little protection during this uncertain time for employment. If you are a freelancer and are struggling to find work currently, applying for Universal Credit may be an option during this time – the same applies if you have recently become unemployed.

You may be eligible if you’re on a low income currently or out of work, live in the UK, are 18 or over and have £16,000 or less in your savings. Currently, the government’s economic plan does not extend to those who are self-employed, and while Universal Credit may not be enough income for your expenses, it is still worth applying for.

Tax Support

If you are concerned about upcoming or expected tax payments, HMRC has set up a phone helpline specifically for self-employed people and small businesses with 2,000 callers on hand to offer advice. The government will be deferring VAT payments for the next three months and if you’re self-employed, any self-assessments expected in July of this year are deferred to January 2021.

Support for Businesses and Employees

On Friday 20, the chancellor outlined the government’s support for businesses disrupted by Covid-19. This includes a coronavirus job retention scheme, the deferring of VAT and income tax payments, and a small business grant funding of £10,000, to name just a few. All UK businesses are eligible for the job retention scheme to pay “those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during the crisis”.

We know that many members of the creative community supplement their creative income with jobs in hospitality, largely in businesses which will now be closed due to government restrictions. If you are an employee you will need your business to access the scheme, rather than as an individual, but it is worth checking to see if you could receive 80 per cent of your wages while on furlough.

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