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October 2020
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CIoJ calls on government to provide emergency support for freelance journalists

CIoJ President, Professor Tim Crook

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

The Chartered Institute of Journalists is calling for the emergency government measures to help businesses cope with the COVID-19 crisis to be extended to individual freelance journalists known as ‘sole-traders.’

The Institute says individual freelances are already experiencing substantial cancellation of contracts, assignments and projects and face catastrophic social consequences and argues that self-trading freelances urgently need a wide-ranging additional support package such as the suspension of Council Tax and HMRC income tax debt payments and VAT liability.

CIoJ President, Professor Tim Crook told GPSJ: “The Chancellor and Prime Minister have declared that the Government ‘will do whatever it takes to support businesses and individuals…’ during this period of uncertainty. Please make sure that this is the case with individual freelance journalists.”

He argues that; “If Pubs, clubs, restaurants and theatres with a rateable value of less than £51,000 are eligible for a non-repayable cash grant of £25,000, there should be a similar non-repayable cash grant for self-trading freelance journalists who can show that they have lost a substantial proportion of their previous year’s income.”

The Institute has been urged by its members to call on the Government to extend its grant support for businesses based in home settings that also employ freelances.

President Tim Crook says: “We would recommend the availability of an emergency cash grant of up to £5,000 in addition to any sickness or universal credit welfare benefits being claimed,” and called on the government to extend its three-month mortgage holiday provision to private renters, and an emergency law to prevent evictions and repossession proceedings.

The Institute also urges media businesses and publishers to do all they can to support their freelance employees, to continue honouring the commissioning of projects that had been planned for, and to find creative and laterally thought out online methodologies that support ongoing research and publication.

Professor Crook adds: “The massive changes in our media and cultural industries in recent years mean that a much larger proportion of employment is freelance. These vital industries will not be able to survive without sustaining and supporting its freelance expertise.”

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