Scottish Live Events Network branch statement on the Chancellors March 2021 budget.
Scottish Live events Network welcomes some of the changes and updates set out in today's budget, however, we are aware that it does not go far enough and that there are many gaps that particularly live events freelancers as well as Ltd companies will fall through due to not being eligible for the new and updated support schemes.
We are pleased to see the extension of furlough until September at 80% and this will provide much needed help for many businesses. The extension of SEISS and the inclusion of the 19/20 tax year in the calculations will help some of the excluded to be eligible for it. We are very disappointed that the SEISS is only being extended until July and that there is a cut off which means some people will only be eligible for 30% grants. This does not stand with previous comments by the Chancellor of treating the Employed and the Self Employed equally. In comparison those eligible for the Self Employed Income Support scheme will have received 4 number of months less support than employees furloughed under the job retention scheme.
There are grave concerns though that for the Excluded, many of whom are in the live events sector, it’s either too little too late or they are still excluded. There are many cliff edges in the SEISS criteria which do not exist in the Job Retention Scheme, not least the 50/50 rules and the over £50,000 both of which would benefit from tapering or removing altogether so that 0.1% or 1p over does not exclude you from the entire grant.
The freeze on the fuel duty and the restart grant for those businesses in the events sector that can access it are also welcomed, as is the injection of £408 million to arts and culture. We hope that should the reopening timelines get moved back that further funding will be included. We also welcome the extension of the 5% VAT rate and then the 12.5% rate for the following 6 months.
We are calling on government:
To pay SEISS for all five months leading up to September to fall in line with furlough. At present the August payment is three months income to cover five months (May to September). This is grossly unfair and again lacks the parity the government continually claims it shows.
To change the SEISS criteria from sharp cut offs on the 50/50 rule and the £50000 upper limit to tapered criteria.
Provide one off grants for any remaining excluded.
Commit to extending all COVID related funding schemes, including furlough and SEISS, in the event that there are still major restrictions in place in any of the four nations at the time those schemes are due to end.
To bring in a government underwritten event insurance scheme.