British Government Set To Unveil Coronavirus Bailout For Freelancers On Thursday

British chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing a coronavirus rescue package for 5M self-employed people in the UK — a move that will throw a life-line to thousands of freelancers in the entertainment industries.

Sunak is expected to outline the measures at a press briefing on Thursday after saying this week that he is “determined to find a way to support” Britain’s freelance community.

According to reports in British newspapers, the measures introduced in the UK could be similar to those put in place in Scandanavia, where freelancers are being handed 80% of their average monthly income, calculated using past tax returns.

The freelance financial stimulus follows the British government stepping in last week to pay salaries. It guaranteed to pay 80% of wages for people in permanent jobs but not working because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has been intense lobbying by creative industry groups, including unions Bectu and Equity, for similar support to be offered to people who are self-employed. This included 7,000 freelancers writing to their MPs to demand help, while actors including Richard E Grant and David Tennant joined the campaign by signing a petition.

Deadline spoke to three television freelancers about their need for financial assistance after huge swathes of British production was shut down or postponed. “The government does owe us some support. Perhaps we don’t have as loud a voice as large corporate entities. People need to appreciate what we do,” said cameraman Ian French.

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