A frayed lifeline
Earlier in the week, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that self-employed workers may apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over three months, to be paid in a single instalment starting at the beginning of June.
I don’t believe I am alone in viewing the industry response to this as distinctly lukewarm—Chief Executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, Julian Bird said, "we welcome the financial support announced by the government for self-employed and freelance people in our industry—this is very welcome and much needed. We remain concerned by the ability of people to access adequate funds through the welfare system until payments start to be made under the new scheme in June, and urge a rethink of whether some form of interim payment can be granted to self-employed people. Many thousands of people who graduated last summer will also not be eligible for the scheme, and will need rapid support."
I would give the Chancellor's announcement a one star review at best.
Whilst I appreciate that the treasury's funds are finite and there needs to be some—dare I say equity—in the arrangements on offer to the self-employed, this help will come as too little too late for too many.
Countless workers in the theatre industry rely on second jobs not just to make ends meet but to survive at all, and many have lost that work as well leaving them with nothing.
Many hundreds are already facing food insecurity, and very likely housing insecurity, with only 80% of very little to look forward to.
The woolly timing for payments—from the beginning of June—with no offer of interim aid makes Sunak's announcement a frayed lifeline.