Have freelancers been forgotten by the government scheme?
Coronavirus outbreaks have caused a number of restrictions in place including lockdowns, travel restrictions, mandatory isolation, and the newest restriction of two people in public provided there is a valid reason to leave home. Going to the beach, movies or any entertainment is against the law.
People are financially stressed as many jobs are lost. hence the economy is at a downturn. Fortunately, the government introduced a scheme called Job Seekers and Job Keepers to relieve the financial stress on Australian citizens. However, not everyone will benefit from this, as freelancers are left forgotten in the Job Keepers scheme.
The freelancers of the arts and entertainment industry specifically are being hit the hardest. These people include artists, behind the scene staff such as bar staff and venue managers, etc. The reason why they are hit the hardest is because gatherings are not allowed, entertainment is not a reason for people to leave the house.
Entertainment across the creative industries such as concerts, movies, talk shows, art galleries, exhibitions have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. Public gatherings have recently been limited to two people, excluding those from the same household. Therefore with no shows meaning no income for those who work in the performance industry, as freelancers receive their income from gig to gig. A lot of these freelancers are not receiving work, and so they’re not protected by the government scheme.
As the gig economy becomes a more significant way of making money, the industry has reported losing 25 billion to the economy within the arts and culture industry. This means a lot of people are affected and will not be supported by the government initiative.
As events are cancelled for the rest of the year, professionals live in cities, economy downturn, rent/mortgage high average, much difficulty is presented in this coming year on survival. As there are sudden job losses and incomes, professionals can’t afford to pay their rent due to the expensive rent from staying in the busy centre of the city. Although the government had intended to stop evictions by forbidding landlords from evicting tenants who have lost their job for not paying rent. This then encourages tenants and landlords to make their own individual arrangements in reducing rent for a period of 6 months.
The government scheme was designed to support those who are finding it difficult to seek a job in the midst of the COVID-19 through Jobseekers and to keep those working in struggling small businesses through Jobkeepers. However to be eligible for the Jobkeeper package, businesses have to demonstrate a 30% reduction in turnover over a period of a year, with the government’s estimated spending of 130 billion to benefit six million Australians in 6 months.
Unfortunately for the arts and culture industry, they are traditionally self-employed and part of the gig economy. This means due to the nature of their job, they receive payment depending on each job they take on.
Freelancers could apply for Jobseekers, however they won’t get the jobseeker allowance until the end of April and therefore for struggling renters won’t be able to pay their rent.
There is a clear shortcoming to the government’s most recent initiative. Even though we can all agree that it is quite generous in a lot of ways to a lot of people, unfortunately, there are still people who will be under financial stress and struggling for money or to make a living.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think freelancers should also be covered under these schemes? Why are freelancers not covered under this scheme?
Comment below, we want to hear your thoughts!