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NUJ calls on Chancellor for a fair deal for #ForgottenFreelances

Posted on: April 22, 2020 by Mariella Brown

The National Union of Journalists has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for a fair deal for freelances who have missed out on the government’s help schemes for workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The #ForgottenFreelances campaign outlines how NUJ members have been unable to gain access to financial assistance and face severe hardship as a result of losing work.

The NUJ says many journalists and photographers who are employed via short term contracts and shift work have not been put on furlough by their organisations and as a consequence are not eligible for assistance.

In a press release, Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said:

“The NUJ is calling on the Chancellor to take urgent action over the many gaps in provision that have left freelances feeling cast aside and forgotten, plunging many into financial crisis.

“Practical support and help now is vital if freelance journalists are to sustain themselves and their families and be in a position to work once the economic shockwaves of lockdown subside and the recovery begins.

“The fault-lines in the industry have left many in precarious positions. Freelances carve out their careers working shifts and on short-term contracts. Now they are being penalised for the way in which the industry employs them. Media companies are refusing to furlough PAYE workers, which is absolutely contrary to the spirit of the Job Retention Scheme. Freelances must be given real support and the same safety net as other workers.”

The union has also highlighted self-employed individuals who have had income negatively affected by the coronavirus. The organisations says some of these individuals are not eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) as ‘many individuals will not qualify because their self-employed work (under self-assessment) is less than 50%’.

In a statement the NUJ described how ‘the present crisis has laid bare the precarious nature of the UK media workforce’.

Earlier this week it was reported that the Journalists’ Charity has distributed more than £30,000 of grants to journalists affected by the crisis.

Read the NUJ’s letter to the Chancellor here. The #ForgottenFreelance campaign can be supported by tweeting using the hashtag or using the #ForgottenFreelances logos.