Coronavirus, the UK budget and Illustrators

We are in fast moving times and there is a huge amount of uncertainty and anxiety around.

Coronavirus, and the response to it, is as challenging for illustrators as it is for other workers, and perhaps more so.

We are pleased with the level of support that the UK budget announcement offers, especially in the short term to the self-employed.  Importantly it offers practical and much needed financial support through the Coronavirus pandemic.

There are several points which are worth illustrators and agents focussing on. This is our interpretation of what the Chancellor has said. It is essential that you read the actual advice which can be found here or here, or in other articles. This will ensure that you receive the right advice for your particular circumstances.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Support

  • You will be able claim compensation if you are sick, or required to self-isolate even if you are not usually entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This will be for the duration of the outbreak.  You will be able to get  the appropriate documentation from NHS 111 rather than from a GP during the outbreak.
  • For agent members, or illustrators with employees, the government will bring forward legislation to allow you to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for up to 14 days sickness absence due to COVID-19.
  • Some businesses may be able to access Business Rates relief, and if you are eligible for small business rates relief you can access a further cash grant of £3,000.

You can read more about these areas here.

VAT on e-books

  • The removal of VAT on ebooks and digital newspapers is confirmed, bringing it in line with physical books and increasing access to digital content.

National Insurance

  • Threshold on National Insurance contributions will increase. Remember you pay National Insurance when your profit (not income) has reached the threshold.

Outside of the budget, there are other areas of support for us financially.  RBS will allow people affected by Cornavaris to defer mortgage and loan repayments, and other banks may follow suit.

The UK interest rate has also been cut from 0.75% to 0.25%.  Good news if you have a mortgage, less so if you are a saver – but importantly it has been implemented to help banks lend to business, to keep things moving.

The impact of Coronavirus is unclear.  We will work to respond to the changing situation, and support illustrators through this period as best we can. The AOI has contingency plans in place to continue operating as usual as far as we can.

Happily, illustration itself is pretty robust- as others have quipped, its germ free; often not reliant on big shoots, collaboration and travel.  And  illustrators generally are pretty experienced at both self-isolating and working from home, so we are ahead of the game.




12th March 2020

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