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Bectu urges help for self-employed in budget

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Screen industries trade union Bectu is part of a panel which has urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide greater help for self-employed workers in his upcoming budget.

The call came in a new report by the Inquiry into the Future of Self-Employment, backed by Bectu’s parent union Prospect, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), trade union Community and a panel of experts from the worlds of business and politics.

The report calls for Sunak to provide greater security for freelancers, or risk an exodus of self-employed workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many self-employed workers have been excluded from government support schemes for one reason or another, with some having now gone close to a year without assistance.

The inquiry says that the repercussions of a mass exodus from the self-employed sector would be drastic and recommends a package of policy measures to prevent this.

Proposed measures include: ending exclusions from income support packages; extending health and safety rights, sick pay and paid parental leave rights for self-employed workers; adjusting Universal Credit and pensions to help the self-employed and the appointment of a government Commissioner for the Self-Employed.

Furthermore, the report calls for the definition of self-employed to be redrawn in order to make it more inclusive and for IR35 rules, due to come in April 6th, to be delayed.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “Workers in the creative industries have been left with little to no support from government schemes in the last year, resulting in a financial crisis for freelancers across the UK.”

“There is a lack of understanding of how self-employment works in practise, which has led to schemes that don’t fit the reality of working life for many Bectu members.”

“I urge the Chancellor to take on board the recommendations in this report, end the exclusion of millions of freelancers from government income support packages, and set out a new deal for freelancers and the self-employed for the future.”