How the government’s Winter Economy Plan affects full-timers and freelancers

Here are more details on chancellor Rishi Sunak’s plans to salvage British jobs over winter, and how industry representatives have responded.

Date
25 September 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

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Yesterday, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his job support scheme to subsidise the wages of those who’ve lost work as a result of the pandemic. This new six-month scheme begins on 1 November and replaces the furlough scheme, which finishes at the end of October. It encourages short-term hours in favour of redundancy and therefore supports those working at least a third of their normal hours for a small or medium-sized firm. It sees both the government and employer cover a third of the person’s wages each. The employer will also be paying the working third, meaning if an employee is working exactly a third of their normal hours, for example, the employer will have to cover 55 per cent of the employee’s normal wages, and the government 22 per cent, so the employee receives 77 per cent of their normal full-time pay. Large firms can only apply if they prove their turnover has fallen significantly.

With regards to self-employed workers, the government has extended the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme on similar terms and conditions to the new job support scheme, to support “viable traders who are facing reduced demand over the winter months,” covering 20 per cent of average monthly trading profits via a government grant. The deadline for application has been extended to 30 April 2021.

The deadline for application to all coronavirus loan schemes, including the future fund, has been extended to 30 November. The “bounce-back loans” have also been given a so-called “pay-as-you-grow” feature, which means loans can be extended from six to ten years, and monthly repayments can be reduced or paused entirely for six months, with no impact on credit rating.

Sunak said that these measures go towards the government’s mindset that “lives can no longer be put on hold,” due to the pandemic. “Since May, we have taken steps to liberate our economy and society. We did these things because life means more than simply existing. We find meaning and hope through our friends and family, through our work and our community”. The approach aims to protect jobs until spring.

Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation, said in response: “We welcome the emergency measures announced by the chancellor today, which will support many organisations, workers and freelancers in our sector that are still unable to operate at full capacity due to the pandemic.

“However, the eligibility criteria of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme remains unchanged, which means that many of the sector’s two million self-employed workers – including limited company contractors, PAYE freelancers and the newly self-employed – will continue to fall through the gaps in government support. Many of these people have seen all of their work dry up overnight and it remains vital that they are supported as a matter of urgency. 

“We welcome the extension of the Bounce Bank Loan Scheme and look forward to seeing the allocation of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, which will be announced in the coming weeks. Government will need to be agile as the demand for further sector-specific support becomes clear in what will be a tough winter ahead for the creative sector.

Creative industries are a major driver of economic growth. They bind communities together, delight millions and have the power to lead our regeneration as we reposition ourselves on the world stage. We need an ambitious plan of longer-term investment to support this.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed the plans, saying they will “save hundreds of thousands of viable jobs this winter… Wage support, tax deferrals and help for the self-employed will reduce the scarring effect of unnecessary job losses as the UK tackles the virus.”

For more information on the scheme, you can read the government summary here.

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Rishi Sunak’s Winter Economy Plan. Image via @rishisunak on Twitter

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny joined the editorial team as It’s Nice That’s first news editor in April 2016. Having studied 3D Design, she has spent the last ten years working in design journalism. Contact her with news stories relating to the creative industries on news@itsnicethat.com.

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