Second phase of charity’s Covid-19 Financial Hardship Funding launched

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Help Musicians’ second wave of hardship support will help those ineligible for government emergency safety nets or unable to survive on what they receive. 

Help Musicians has announced that it will open applications for its new financial hardship fund next week. The latest support initiative from the charity is targeted at self-employed musicians who do not qualify for Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and other unemployed musicians who are experiencing significant financial hardship. The fund will open with a total of £2.55m, made up of £2m from the charity’s reserves plus generous donations of £500k from music licensing company PPL and £50k from the Lightbody Foundation.

For those who are eligible, to the extent that funds allow, the charity will offer grant payments for the period 1 June to 31 October, to top up Universal Credit payments where relevant. Where an applicant does not qualify for Universal Credit but is still experiencing significant financial hardship, an assessment will be made based on individual circumstances.

The vast majority of musicians are self-employed, and a recent survey carried out by the charity showed that 25% of these believed they would be ineligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Despite strong and sustained pressure from across the music industry, the government has not changed the terms of the scheme. In response, Help Musicians needs to launch a second phase of funds to provide financial support for those musicians who are left with nothing but Universal Credit, or who are struggling to survive on what little other support they receive.

This new opportunity is launched following the charity’s first phase of financial hardship support which offered one-off grants of £500 to provide immediate short-term relief for professional musicians experiencing financial hardship. Unprecedented demand led to a total of £8.35m being distributed in just over 4 weeks to 16,700 musicians who required urgent financial assistance prior to the announcement of government support schemes.

James Ainscough, Chief Executive said “Musicians have been hit brutally hard by the lockdown as the vast majority rely on income from performing, rehearsing, recording and teaching. And it looks like live music will be one of the last sectors of the economy to return to normal. With the knowledge that so many musicians remain ineligible for government support, we have no option but to offer further financial help. Our second phase of financial hardship funding is therefore targeted to help those who fall through the gaps of the government emergency safety nets and will support musicians for the next five months. We anticipate this fund will receive thousands of applications and are ready to process the high volume in the coming weeks. We are grateful for the generosity and leadership from PPL and the Lightbody Foundation in helping us kick-start this work to support as many musicians as possible over the months ahead. We could only support the 16,700 musicians who applied in the first round thanks to the generous donations of many music industry corporates, trusts and music lovers. We are hopeful that even more can donate for this next round of vital hardship support.”

The application process for this new fund will begin on Friday 5 June 2020. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn for further updates.

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