Sunak extends furlough and SEISS
Wednesday, 3 March 2021
budgetThe total fiscal support has surpassed £400bn
UK - Newly self-employed workers who have lost income during the COVID-19 crisis will be able to claim grants from the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
The change to the eligibility criteria, which was announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in today’s Budget, means those who have become self-employed during 2019-20 will be able to receive cash grants based on their tax returns. When SEISS was launched however, it was based on tax returns for 2018-19, which resulted in many people failing to qualify.
But this latest move will do little to please campaigners, who have been lobbying the government for months to extend the scheme to thousands more excluded workers, such as limited-company directors.
Sunak has also extended the furlough scheme to the end of September, with workers guaranteed to receive 80% of their income until then, whilst employers will be asked to contribute 10% of wages in July, rising to 20% in August and September.
Meanwhile, the recently-announced roadmap out of the current UK lockdown has offered some clarity on when events could resume, with prime minister Boris Johnson stating that theatres may be allowed to open in May and gigs, large live events and nightclubs could return in June.
But to provide confidence and security to organisers looking to host events this summer, the sector has been lobbying for a state-backed cancellation insurance scheme. The efforts are likely to continue in force amid strong demand from the public, with festival organisers reporting record ticket sales and a YouGov survey showing that half of the UK population want to go to a live event this summer.
“It is good to see the chancellor recognise some of the challenges the live event supply chain is facing and take steps in the Budget to address these,” comments Duncan Bell of #WeMakeEvents. “The extension of furlough and SEISS beyond the end of the roadmap will be vital and we applaud this decision. The additional funding allocated to the Cultural Recovery Fund is also potentially helpful but DCMS and Arts Council England must ensure that the live event supply chain receives a fair proportion of the additional money allocated, which has not been the case in the past."
He adds: “But critical barriers to recovery still remain and must be overcome. Most importantly, vast numbers of businesses and individuals in the live event supply chain remain excluded from support schemes and we urge local authorities to address this through the discretionary funds they have been allocated. The continued absence of government-backed COVID-19 cancellation insurance is also a block to live events getting going again and this must be announced shortly.”
In another key announcement for the hospitality and events sectors, Sunak extended the temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT until 30 September. It will then move up to 12.5% for a further six months, until 31 March 2022, before finally transitioning to the standard 20%.
Meanwhile, the existing government guaranteed schemes will be replaced by the Recovery Loan Scheme, through which businesses can access loans and other kinds of finance up to £10m and be used for "any legitimate business purpose, including growth and investment". The new scheme launches on 6 April and is open until 31 December, subject to review. The latest measures brought the total fiscal support to £407bn.
Find the key details of the Budget here.

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