Freelancers and the Self-employed Income Support Scheme

Sole trader

On 26 March 2020 the Chancellor announced his new scheme to help people who are self-employed and have no work or reduced income.

On 29 May he announced a second grant, available from 17 August, modelled on the first, but at a lower rate.

He is helping sole traders only but with strict eligibility criteria:


Posted on 26 March 2020

What’s it like when you claim Universal Credit

Sole trader Sarah Carless has been freelancing for 25 years. She’s a floor manager, so nothing daunts her!

Listen to her experience of applying for Universal Credit when her work dried up because of coronavirus. (See also the important note below the video.)

Recorded Wednesday 25 March 2020

Of course everyone’s experience will be slightly different, but for creative freelancers this might held you understand the process.


Posted on 25 March 2020

How HMRC could help creative freelancers

[Update: Wednesday 25 March 2020

There is an amendment to the Coronavirus Bill, proposed by the Lib Dems, which would create “statutory self-employment pay” at an average of the last three years’ net profit, OR £2917 per month, whichever is lower. The government didn’t adopt the amendment, but it shows the kind of thinking that’s going on. You can read the proposal on page 14 of the amendments document: ]

The COVID-19 pandemic has applied an unexpected stress test to parts of the way we earn and pay our taxes. And the system is showing its flaws.

It’s not surprising that the UK government first came up with a plan for supporting businesses to support their employees. Businesses hold all the information needed to push finance down the pipe into employees’ bank accounts. They also (in theory) have a moral duty to support their staff.

But the system for people who don’t fall into this earning category is more messy. Different words are used by people to describe themselves: freelancer, self-employed, sole trader, contractor, interim.


Posted on 23 March 2020

Web-based training and coronavirus

Like every other business, we’re being affected by restrictions brought in to tackle the spread of COVID-19/Coronavirus.

All our face to face training is on hold, and we’re expanding our webinar offer in consultation with key clients such as ScreenSkills, NUJ Training Wales and the Federation of Entertainment Unions.

We have also made the following changes:


Posted on 13 March 2020

Self-employed roles in production – updated ‘agreed list’

Just before Christmas HMRC published an updated list of the job roles that are typically considered self-employed in film and broadcast production.

This is a welcome clarification, and has been the result of long discussions between BECTU and others.

It’s been organised into handy sections such as ‘post-production’, ‘special FX’, ‘audio’, ‘production management’, etc..

My favourite bit is the interesting mixture of jobs in the ‘other roles’ section at the end.

You can access the latest list here. Warning: it’s a PDF with a couple of dozen pages!

Roles normally treated as self-employed >

Posted on 13 January 2020

How do IR35 changes affect creative freelancers? (Q&A)

You may have heard that the government is changing the way that organisations determine the status of people they might hire to work for them – people like freelancers and contractors.

This is commonly called the IR35 or ‘intermediaries’ legislation.


Posted on 13 January 2020

Election 2019 – Tax implications for freelancers – UPDATED

[Updated on 16 December 2019, after the election results.]

This blog was put together to look at the implications of the main UK-wide party manifestos for freelancers, small companies and other tax payers.

The video explainer below shows aspects of the three manifestos. I thought I’d leave it there, even though we now know it’s the Conservatives who won – big time.

In fact the Conservative manifesto was the one with the least detail. (Some would argue this is why they won.) But we can expect a Budget announcement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in February 2020. I will post again to highlight details as they emerge.

Of course the one thing that will happen is that we will leave the EU at the end of January 2020. We will then enter a ‘transition period’, initially set to run out at the end of December 2020.

Nothing changes in terms of movement of goods, rules about freedom of movement, and working, etc, until the end of the transition period.

For more on the implications of Brexit for freelancers, see my earlier blog.

Remember this video explainer covers all of the UK except Scotland, which has had its own income tax system for a couple of years now.

Problems seeing the video on Vimeo? Try here on YouTube >


Posted on 01 December 2019

Do freelancers need to ‘get ready for Brexit’?

Border check

Update November 2019: You can watch my 20 minute presentation about no-deal Brexit and freelancers courtesy of AudioUK – recorded 25 October 2019:
David’s presentation on Vimeo >

Have you got ready for Brexit yet?  Nope – me neither. Because no one knows (at time of writing) what Brexit will look like.

However, there are some things you should think about in preparation for ‘getting ready for Brexit’. Some of it won’t cost any money, and will mean you are less likely to be caught on the hop if and when we leave the EU. 

This will be particularly important if we leave in a sudden ‘crash out’, no-deal, WTO-type scenario. [Update 16 Dec 19: this could still happen at the end of December 2020.]


Posted on 25 October 2019

Simplifying tax for freelancers and SMEs

Image pound sign

You could be forgiven for thinking the government is only interested in Brexit and leadership contests at the moment.

But there are other things going on behind the scenes.


Posted on 17 July 2019

Why our Finance for Freelancers workshop is different

Tax buttons on calculator

In the run-up to this month’s Finance for Freelancers workshop in London (book here!), I saw an interesting comment on Facebook under BECTU’s ad for the course.

The suggestion was that other organisations run free courses on tax, etc., so why bother with ours.


Posted on 08 July 2019