Chancellor Rishi Sunak's new Job Support Scheme has been broadly welcomed by the Publishers Association (PA) and Independent Publishers Guild (IPG).
On Thursday 24th September, Sunak revealed a scheme to replace furlough, which ends on 31st October.
The new scheme, which lasts for six months from November, will see employees in "viable" jobs working less than their normal hours have their pay subsidised, with the government and employer each paying a third of the lost salary. The measure would see someone working a third of their normal hours paid 77% of their usual salary.
Sunak said he would extend the Self-Employed Grant on similar terms while Bounce Back Loans will see their terms extended from six years to 10.
Speaking after Sunak's announcement, Stephen Lotinga, c.e.o. of the PA, said: “We welcome the new measures announced by the Chancellor today. While we need to see more detail, the Job Support Scheme should provide publishers with increased flexibility as we head into winter, which is the busiest time for the UK publishing market.”
At the IPG, c.e.o. Bridget Shine said the measures on jobs and loan would be a help to indie presses. She said: “The furloughing scheme has undoubtedly helped some publishers preserve jobs that would otherwise have been lost, and the evolution of it into the Jobs Support Scheme is welcome news for businesses that remain fragile. The new flexibility over working hours will be suited to businesses and workers who are able to be flexible over working hours, though employers will have to decide if they can afford the top-ups to wages that are required alongside government support. Many independent publishers rely heavily on freelancers and have been concerned for their financial security in recent months, so it’s good to see an extension to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme as well.
"A lot of IPG members have found the Bounce Back and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans schemes to be the best sources of support for cashflow, so building more time and flexibility into repayments will give recovering companies room to breathe—as will delays on some tax bills. There’s clearly a long way to go before businesses can get back to anything like normal, but this is a sensible package of support for the months ahead.”
Meryl Halls, m.d. of the Booksellers Association said: " “We welcome any support which helps small businesses- and booksellers of all sizes - transition to something approaching normal trading, and it’s good that the Chancellor has listened to the business community and heeded the need for continuing support to keep workers employed and productive. We know that for bookshop owners – often working solo during and since lockdown, having furloughed most of their staff – have been concerned about the potential difficulties of bringing back valued staff members on much reduced turnover, so this scheme should help to alleviate some of that pressure.There is clearly a continuing need to balance public health with economic rebuilding, and we urge the government to continue paying attention to the already beleaguered high street, including our front line bookshops, who provide such a crucial service, both culturally and economically.”
Caroline Norbury, c.e.o. of the Creative Industries Federation, also welcomed the support but warned many self-employed workers would still be left without help. She said: “We welcome the emergency measures announced by the Chancellor today, which will support many organisations, workers and freelancers in our sector that are still unable to operate at full capacity due to the pandemic.
“However, the eligibility criteria of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme remains unchanged, which means that many of the sector’s two million self-employed workers—including limited company contractors, PAYE freelancers and the newly self-employed—will continue to fall through the gaps in government support. Many of these people have seen all of their work dry up overnight and it remains vital that they are supported as a matter of urgency.
“We welcome the extension of the Bounce Bank Loan Scheme and look forward to seeing the allocation of the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund, which will be announced in the coming weeks. Government will need to be agile as the demand for further sector-specific support becomes clear in what will be a tough winter ahead for the creative sector.”