Provide appropriate and adequate support to self-employed artists impacted by coronavirus

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Theresa Easton
Theresa Easton signed this petition

I have started this petition as the National Co-Chair and on behalf of the Artists' Union England. 

Many of our members are low paid and self-employed and have no choice but to supplement their self-employment income as an artist by working for an employer as well. Most of the jobs offered to artists are  low paid precarious contracts.

Many of our members work in community and socially engaged art projects that supporting vulnerable and deprived communities. 

We have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer three times: firstly to raise concerns that there were no measures introduced for self-employed people who also hold a job (e.g. with PAYE); secondly, to raise concerns when measures were introduced, that they did not cover all self-employed people; and thirdly, that the estimated end of June 2020  date, for people to start receiving any money was too long to wait.

Many of our members have to pay rent on studios in addition to all their living accommodation and other costs. Since the coronavirus crisis, most have had all of their work cancelled for the rest of 2020 at least. This includes short term contracts, community arts projects, exhibitions and commissions,  with consequences resulting in no paid work for the foreseeable future and no likelihood of being able to sell any work. 

 In our third letter to the Chancellor  we set out detailed accounts of the real impacts on self-employed artists and their families. 

To date we have received no replies to our letters so we have started this petition to call upon the government to introduce measures for self-employed people sooner than proposed, to commence the application process straight away, not at the start of June, and to make interim payments to self-employed people so they and their families can survive, keep a roof over their heads, pay their bills and put food on their tables.

We are also calling on the government to help those people who work part time while also being self-employed as currently they are not eligible for any help. We call on the government to include all self-employed people, irrespective of the length of time they have been self-employed. The government has stated that they will be looking at the last 3 years of self-assessment and that they will provide a taxable grant of 80% of the profits made during these years. We are calling on the government to provide funds to all self-employed people, irrespective of how long they have been self-employed.

Given that artists’ expenses are high and so profits are disproportionately low when compared to other businesses, this needs to be taken into account in making assessments, it cannot just be based on profits.

We further call on the government to review and revise the way they will assess the amount people will be eligible for, as many self-employed people have to invest any income generated back into the business, in the case of artists this could include studio rent, equipment and materials, costs of setting up exhibitions. 

Artists' Union England