20 October 2020
We're calling on members to email their MPs in support of Equity's lobbying work to ensure our members can access financial help through the social security system, as promised by the Chancellor, for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.
Please use or customise the email text below and send to your MP as soon as possible, as the Government are due to make a decision on the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor by 13th November. You can also download a Word document of the letter here.
Email your MP by entering your postcode in this link and follow the instructions for sending your message to your MP (which will be the third option on the results page): https://www.mysociety.org/wehelpyou/contact-your-mp/
I am a constituent and a member of the trade union Equity which represents over 48,000 actors and creative professionals working across the UK’s entertainment, arts and creative industries. Very little permanent employment exists in the sector and consequently the vast majority of people working in our industries are self-employed for tax and welfare benefits purposes.
As a result of the pandemic 1 in 4 Equity members now report that they have or in the process of making a claim for Universal Credit.
During the COVID-19 crisis the usual rules applicable to the self-employed under Universal Credit have been modified. These changes were brought in by The Universal Credit (Coronavirus)(Further Measures) Regulations 2020 SI 2020 No.371.
Particular powers are given under Regulation 2 of these regulations to amend or suspend the operation of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) in Universal Credit. Regulation 2 will cease to have effect at end of a period of eight months beginning on 13th March 2020 i.e. on 13th November.
Equity has long campaigned for the abolition of the minimum income floor and welcomed the government’s decision to suspend it during the current crisis period in the industry. The effects of applying the MIF are unduly harsh to the self-employed with variable and unpredictable income as is common in our industry.
The MIF assumes an income for those self-employed who are deemed GSE irrespective of whether that income is being received in a particular month. It is based on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and in a typical case would result in an assumed income of 35 x NMW per week. This equates to £305.20 per week or £1322 over a Universal Credit monthly assessment period.
The re-imposition of Minimum Income Floor during this crisis period in the industry could have a disastrous effect. The vast majority of creative workplaces will not now re-open until Spring 2021 at the earliest and in the meantime, despite the £1.57bn committed by the Government to the creative sector, most freelance and self-employed workers are receiving no financial support and are reliant on access to social security. Indeed, 40% of Equity members have had no assistance from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
Maintaining a talent pool including new entrants to the profession and those from under-represented backgrounds is essential to ensure a fair and full recovery for our sector. That means ensuring that this pool if not forced out of entertainment work.
I therefore ask you to call on the Secretary of State For Work and Pensions to urgently consider an extension to the discretionary powers given under Regulation 2 SI2020 No.371 so that creative workers can get the support they need from the welfare system to sustain them in the entertainment industry.
Many thanks for your help
YOUR NAME & YOUR ADDRESS (to identify you as a constituent)