Culture: Coronavirus

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Ian Byrne Ian Byrne Labour, Liverpool, West Derby

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will (a) provide and (b) encourage insurers to provide freelance workers in the cultural sector with a personal insurance scheme that includes cover for covid-19-related illnesses.

Photo of Ian Byrne Ian Byrne Labour, Liverpool, West Derby

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make it his policy to provide backdated financial support to freelancers in the arts sector who are not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State

DCMS recognise that these are extremely challenging times for freelancers, and understand the crucial role they play in making our arts and creative industries world-leading. We are working hard to ensure that we help to provide financial support to freelancers during this period.

On 5 July, DCMS announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of sectors, including performing arts and theatres, museums and galleries, heritage sites, live music venues and independent cinema.

As a result of these grants and loans, organisations will be more able to resume cultural activity, albeit in a socially distanced way, which will increase employment opportunities for freelancers. Each organisation that receives money will know what best they can do to support their workforce, including their freelance workforce.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has also been extended with applications opening in August for a second and final grant. The grant will operate in the same way as the existing scheme with self-employed workers eligible for a single payment covering three months, at a level of 70% of average monthly earnings up to a maximum of £6,570 (i.e. down from 80% and a maximum of £7,500).

Alongside this funding, ACE have announced £95m of additional support for individuals, which can include freelancers. This involves things such as an additional £75m in project grants. These will be focused on applications that maximise employment opportunities and those from under-represented groups and freelancers are eligible to apply to this directly. National Portfolio Organisations can also apply to create new work with bids that create employment opportunities prioritised. A further round of the ACE programme ‘Discover Your Creative Practice’ will also open in the autumn, which will make approximately £18m available for individuals looking to develop new creative skills that will help them to further develop their career. ACE will also be adding £2m into relevant benevolent funds to support those less well supported by the programmes outlined above, including stage managers and technicians.

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