Want to know what’s available in your sector? Start here…
This piece was first posted in July, 2020. However, the pandemic has dragged on and with it the devastating impacts on the lives and livelihoods of many of those in the creative industries. We’re still very much in the grip of coronavirus, financial help for UK creatives appears to be drying up and there are some concerning stats floating around. However, there are still schemes and support options available.
Here I’ve rounded-up some of the key resources by sector. This list will likely be updated, so if you feel I’ve missed anything useful or important, please drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creative Money would also like to take the chance to shout about the significant struggles faced by those who have fallen through the gaps in government support, an outsized proportion of whom work in these industries.
These groups include freelancers taxed via the PAYE system, those setup as limited companies and paid via dividend, plus the newly employed or self-employed.
Collectively, that equates to millions of taxpayers who have been unable to earn since the start of the pandemic and who have, effectively, been penalised by the somewhat arbitrary rules regarding Covid-19 support schemes.
If you’d like to help do something about this, then please support the excellent work of ForgottenPAYE, ForgottenLtd and New Starter Justice, by visiting their sites and following their social media channels.
Coronavirus financial help: support by sector
Jump to your sector using the links below, or scroll down to take a look at the full range…
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Arts Council funding
Since the pandemic, the Arts Council (the body responsible for awarding public funding for UK creative work) to respond more readily to the needs of small practitioners and freelancers.
The government’s vaunted £1.57bn support for the cultural sector is being delivered via the Arts Council. However, the options below are not Covid-19-specific…
This fund focuses on helping creative workers to develop their skills and associated career options. The new round opens 21 December, 2020.
Aimed at everyone from individuals to larger organisations, there is an enlarged budget of £75 million available until 21 March, 2021 and the fund is now designed to be “more responsive to the needs of smaller independent organisations and individual practitioners during Covid-19.”
Media and entertainment union Bectu has been calling for a government to create a support package to specifically aid the recovery of the much-beleaguered creative industries.
They are asking people to write to their MPs and have created this handy letter template that will populate an email to your MP, based on your postcode. It’s very easy to use, you just have to pop in your name and address.
This is an active support page on Facebook for UK TV and film industry workers. It’s got 6000+ members and aims to share information on everything from financial support to spare rooms. You might find it useful.
Offer a free 24-hour support line on 0800 054 0000, or if you prefer you can email or live chat. They can offer advice on financial issues, legal queries, health and wellbeing and even career development.
The industry body ScreenSkills is offering loads of genuinely good online training courses at present, some have a fee but many are free and offer direct access to commissioners and other industry experts.
This launched back in April and got bolstered by a further £300,000 (from PPL and others) in new funding in late September. It is directed specifically to support music freelancers who have lost work with AIM member’s artists. Requires nomination by an AIM Rightsholder (more info on the site).
The excellent UK charity Help Musicians has built a dedicated site to compile a vast array of resources and support available for musicians affected by the pandemic. This includes links to government schemes, union support and charity funds, plus legal/contract advice, resources for those in music education and mental health support. Thanks very much Help Musicians.
Help Musicians Hardship Fund (Phase 3)
We’ve highlighted this separately as it’s one example of support that can be accessed without being a member of a union (though we’d still recommend you join one ASAP, if you have the means). You can support the fund by donating to the charity.
Update (13 November, 2020): The third phase of funding is now open and will support successful applicants with a monthly top-up until March 2021.
Music Minds Matter
A helpline for anyone working in the music industry. It’s free, confidential and open 24 hours. Just dial 0808 802 8008.
Does your work situation make it difficult to save money? Check out our guide: ‘How to start saving (when you don’t think you can)‘
Full members of the Equity union can apply for grants for one-off emergency expenses like bills and food if they’re facing financial hardship.
A great scheme that aims to connect the under-utilised, furloughed staff from the theatre industry with creative freelancers, in order to help the latter develop new projects and skills.
The Royal Variety Charity is uniquely positioned to provide financial assistance to anyone who serves any facet of the Entertainment Industry. Deadline: ongoing
Offers emergency grants of £1,000 to theatre workers and freelancers. It is one of the biggest funds around in this respect, having raised over £3.9 million thus far thanks to donations from Netflix, the Arts Council and Backstage Trust. You can currently apply until 20 November, 2020, even if you’ve previously applied and received support. Deadline: 20 November, 2020
TheatreSupport is the mega resource you need for a full breakdown of support for those working in the arts. They’ve even put together this extremely useful flow chart to help you figure out where to go, depending on your role/sector.
The National Union of Journalists (interesting note: it’s also open to those in publishing) has a charitable hardship fund NUJ Extra for members, which can issue one-off grants to help cover bills and other crucial expenses. You can donate to the fund here. They have also put together this briefing on government support schemes.
Have set up the Author’s Emergency Fund, which issues grants of up to £2,000 to meet “urgent need” for writers and related roles (including journos, illustrators, poets, scriptwriters etc.) No need to be a member, as far as we’re aware.
Not Covid-specific, but might be useful… £500 given out monthly to a working class writer based in the UK. This grant has been set up to support writers of all ages who are early in their careers and would benefit from this no-strings attached financial support to help them in whatever they like. Deadline: ongoing
The WGGB has a welfare fund for members to help them meet debts, or cover essential business or personal expenses. Grants are usually limited to £1,000.
Coronavirus financial help for UK freelancers
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has received numerous tweaks since it was first unveiled in Spring.
The latest is that there will be a third and fourth grant available to eligible self-employed workers, each covering a three-month period until March 2021. The third grant is now set to cover 80% of average self-employed profits for a three-month period and applications will open on 30 November.
No news on what the fourth grant will look like at this point. That’s likely to be announced in January, probably around the same time they review the furlough scheme.
The existing eligibility requirements, which have excluded millions sadly, remain unchanged for the third grant.
Regardless of your eligibility for SEISS, freelancers will now be able to further delay tax payments by spreading payments that were previously due on 31 January, 2021 across a period of 12 months using the Time To Pay scheme.
As ever with HMRC, if you’re struggling to pay tax it’s best to let them know ASAP. HMRC has a Covid-19 hotline: 0800 0159 559.
Trying to keep a closer eye on your finances? Check out ‘The best budgeting apps for UK creative workers‘
Coronavirus financial help for UK students
Many of the unions mentioned above are not extending hardship funds to their student members, so if you need help start with your student union and/or education provider.
Most universities have student hardship funds, such as this one from Sheffield Hallam, which may be open to applications and can help you with grants, bill payments, advice and food voucher schemes. Housing charities like Shelter can also offer support to those struggling to pay rent or facing accommodation issues.
And finally… a note on Universal Credit
Bear in mind that if you can’t get support through the existing government schemes or funds above, you will likely still be eligible for Universal Credit (provided you are on low/no income and have <£16,000 in savings).
The system is still far from perfect, but has reportedly improved dramatically since its launch. The standard monthly allowance is £409.89 for over-25s and £342.72 for under-25s, but this can be higher, depending on your circumstances.
What did I miss?
If you have anything to add to the list above, or any recommendations or resources that have proved particularly helpful during this time, please let us know in the comments below, or via email on email@example.com.
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How can we help you?
What issues are you facing? What questions do you have about managing your money in the creative industries? What would be most helpful to you?
We don’t have all the answers, but maybe we can find someone that does.