Heads Up – help for Journalists

A message from FWA Chair Carrie Brown:

Dear Members,

One of my key priorities as Chair of the Football Writers’ Association is to set-up a support structure for our members and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek provides a fitting opportunity to bring you up to date with our plans.

The FWA is working in close collaboration with The FA, Heads Up and charity Mind to provide bespoke mental health guidance for journalists, which will be available in the coming weeks. I would like to thank all our members who helped to contribute to the study.

Personally, I would like to thank our Executive Secretary Paul McCarthy and our Executive Committee for their support in this project and my special thanks go to Louisa Fyans, David Gerty and Aaron Bains at The Football Association for their enthusiasm to both embrace and drive the project with Heads Up and Mind.

When we started the study last summer no-one could foresee the situation we all now find ourselves in; if you are finding this time difficult, then please do seek help:

NHS – Every Mind Matters, expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing are available here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters

CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, their helpline is open daily from 5pm to midnight for people in the UK who are down or feel like they have hit a wall for any reason. 0800 58 58 58

MIND have information on a range of topics, including types of mental health issues and where to get help: https://www.mind.org.uk/need-urgent-help/using-this-tool or call their info-line on 0330 123 3393, which is open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays).

The Samaritans are open 24 hours a day, providing one-to-one support for anyone facing distress. If you need someone to talk to, just call 116 123

Text HEADSUP to 85258 for 24/7 free text support from their team of crisis volunteers. Immediate help is available for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere.

Photographers join Sports Freelancer Collective

The British Press Photographers’ Association have joined us in the Sports Freelancer Collective to support those freelancers whose work in sports journalism has been badly hit by football’s suspension.

The BPPA represent the interests of 400 full-time press photographers many of them working in sport and as freelancers.

To that end, they are awaiting a reply from the Premier League after highlighting concerns over plans to severely limit the numbers of photographers at stadia when football returns.

They have offered to make some suggestions on match coverage, where health and safety would not be compromised, while helping the Premier League and the BPPA’s members recover from the crisis.

And they are also urging the Premier League not to use one photographic media source exclusively, which would severely impact on many freelancers whose income has been wiped out overnight.

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has started to accept applications and HMRC will begin contacting eligible self-employed individuals this week.

But a survey by the National Union of Journalists reveals a third of freelances do not expect their incomes to improve until next year, with 40 per cent saying it could take three to six months, while 16 per cent believe they will not be making their living from journalism after the coronavirus pandemic.

Two-thirds of NUJ members said the pandemic and lockdown had affected household income to date, with 18 per cent saying they had suffered between an 80-100 per cent drop in income.

Many freelances doing shifts for newspaper, magazines and publishers are part of the PAYE system and therefore eligible to be included in the Job Retention Scheme – with the government covering 80 per cent of their wages. However, the survey revealed that 5.5 per cent of those who responded said the company they worked for had refused to do so.

Any NUJ members who need help should contact freelanceoffice@nuj.org.uk

Wembley opens kitchens to Compassion

Wembley Stadium opens its kitchens to support Compassion London’s mission to provide thousands of meals every day to key workers and the vulnerable

“In this crisis no-one should go to bed hungry.”
– Leon Aarts, Founder, Compassion London

Compassion London, the charity established to provide nutritious meals to people in need during the Covid-19 crisis, is moving its emergency response operation into Wembley Stadium. Thanks to the valued support of the Football Association and Wembley staff who have joined in to assist the initiative, Compassion London are aiming to cook and deliver 20,000 meals per day.

The charity was founded in response to the Covid-19 lockdown to provide meals to NHS staff and other key workers, individuals and families in need, and the most vulnerable in our society. Compassion London is run by a team of volunteer chefs, delivery drivers and support staff working seven days a week. It relies on donations of food and funding from a wide range of partners. In its first six weeks it delivered in excess of 85,000 meals.

Moving to Wembley allows Compassion London to upscale their reach considerably. The help of Wembley’s Executive Head Chef, Harry Lomas, and Delaware North, the stadium’s caterers, is invaluable in working towards that goal.

Leon Aarts, founder of Compassion London, commented: “Our purpose is the principle of no-one to bed hungry. We plan to cook 20,000 free meals each day cooked by chefs and delivered by volunteers. We are so thankful for the support of Wembley Stadium and the individuals who have gone out of their way to help us to help others. Our meals fuel the carers and also go to people who are struggling to eat.”

Jon Sellins, Operations Director at Wembley Stadium said: “Compassion London is run by a passionate team of volunteers with a simple mission: to help others in this time of crisis. We are very pleased to be able to support them by offering up the facilities and expertise we have available at Wembley Stadium. We hope that this infrastructure will allow them to upscale their response and will mean that their meals reach even more people in need at this difficult time.”

Harry Lomas MBE, BEM, Head of Culinary, Delaware North, Wembley Stadium, added: “The initiative of using an empty kitchen and bringing food together to feed vulnerable people and the NHS is fantastic. It’s a win win situation. We are people and we are doing our little bit for people.”

For more information and to support Compassion London visit http://www.compassionlondon.org
Contact: pr@compassionlondon.org 

Sports Freelancer Collective update May 5

See here for latest news: http://footballwriters.co.uk/editorial/sports-freelancer-collective-update-may-5/ 

Philippe Auclair and Niall McGinnity give an update on the latest news affecting freelancers and small business in journalism:

HMRC has just posted online new information about SEISS, which clarifies matters such as eligibility criteria for the grant that so many of us hope will help us through this uncertain period. Here are the two most important links, which I invite you to read very carefully as it seems to me that some of the government’s criteria will not be fulfilled by some of our members whom we’d initially thought would be eligible for help. I’ll be asking our accountant Niall McGinnity for more details and will get back to you.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-different-circumstances-affect-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme#stateaid

Remember that if you have specific questions about this or any other SEISS/Furlough topic, do send them to me so that I can pass them on to Niall. Just check first that they are not already covered in the FAQ document which I attach to this email.

Last, if any of you is currently facing exceptionally difficult circumstances, whichever they may be, professional, personal, psychological or financial, do get in touch with me. Our Collective is a purely voluntary organisation, with no means and resources of its own, but we’ll try our best to help. What you tell me will be treated in strict confidence.

Best wishes to you all

Philippe

SEISS Queries – Accountant Niall McGinnity’s responses

The majority of my income comes as a PAYE freelancer at ****.  Based on the information given, **** will honour all bookings made up until 31st May with 100% pay, 80% furlough and 20% top up.  It sounds great on the face of it, but one small problem.  The department where I get most of my work only publishes rotas one month in advance.  That means the May rota wasn’t done when we went into lockdown, hence no bookings were officially made for the whole of May for freelancers.  I know for a fact that had things progressed normally, I would have had a significant amount of work in May.  But now I feel like I’m screwed, because although my bookings for April will be honoured, I’ll get nothing for May.  Any idea on where I stand?

NIALL: I think this specific one needs a discussion with your main contact in the company in question.  It’s basically an offer by the company to pay based on bookings.  If you have been paying paye via the company, the appropriate scheme is the Job Retention Scheme for HMRC support, but it needs to be driven by the employer.  I think at worst it would be appropriate for the company to pay even just the 80% they can claim back based on an average of previous months; but it really does need an urgent discussion with them to participate

 

I went freelance in January 2017 after leaving ****. I set up a limited company & did various consulting gigs until September that year, when I was approached by **** to work on a new sports app. For family reasons I went back to being an employee. In November of last year, I then decided to go back to consulting. My limited company has always remained open & tax returns have been filed since 2017. 

 

My last contract finished last month & having only worked in sport for 15 years, you can imagine it’s very quiet out there at the moment in terms of freelance opportunities. So I was wondering if I might be entitled to any of the government’s support. I’m not clear on it as it stands despite having read the relevant sections on the government’s website. 

NIALL: Given you have been “employed” via your limited company there is the option to furlough yourself if there is no work at all; this would mean that 80% of the wages you extract from the company would be covered by HMRC up to £2500.  It does not, however, cover dividend income, only wages / salary.  The SEISS scheme would not be available as you are not fully self-employed per the details of the self-employed scheme.   The other options would be to speak to HMRC and ask for time to pay arrangements on any outgoing taxes if appropriate.

1. I only stepped up freelance activities from January 2019 following redundancy so I’m eligible for nothing.

NIALL: If the freelance activities started in 2018-2019 a claim could still be made. However, the condition of at least 50% of the income being self employed would need to be met i.e. total earnings in 2018-2019 less non self employed (e.g. salaried) earnings would need to be more than 50%. Further, the claim would only be based on the profit for the period Jan 2019- 5 April 2019; there would be no scope to pro rata this to a full trading year.

2. My wife set up a business self employed in December 2018 and due to set up fees also reported a loss for last year tax. She too is eligible for nothing.

NIALL: Unfortunately I agree. If a loss was made there is no capacity to claim as its purely based on profits

Tonight’s government announcement does not help me, or many others in our industry, who work through their own Limited company.

NIALL: There are quite a few comments on this and the concern is that owner Director businesses cannot claim under either the SEISS scheme or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. There are a few points to make:

Owner Directors definitely cannot apply under SEISS. They are not self employed.

They can, however, confirmed by HMRC, apply under the Job Retention Scheme subject to additional conditions.

They would have to effectively cease all trading for their company to be justifiably in furlough status. Ben Kerry at HM Treasury has been quoted on a CBI seminar as saying that HMT understands that the owner-Director-manager will have statutory duties that can be continued even while on furlough

(iii)The only applicable element of earnings that can be made under the Job Retention scheme is a salary. Not dividends. If the wages were paid at minimum level so as not to attract national and insurance or paye the support would be circa £575 pm

I am completely freelance, and work through a limited company of which I am the sole director. Many clients insist/much prefer that I operate this way.

NIALL: as noted above ref Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

All of the company’s income is generated by me, and all work is declared.

NIALL: as noted above ref Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

I pay corporation tax, VAT, dividend tax and personal tax, which added up equal around 20k per year.

NIALL: as noted above ref Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. In addition I would advise:

Cancel the HMRC DD and take advantage of the VAT quarter payments falling between now and 30 June 2020 being deferred. That tax will be due by 31 March but cash can be saved now. Note that HMRC have advised they will take payments by DD so you do need to cancel with your bank to avoid the payment being made

Self Assessment payments on account for 2019-2020 due on 31 July 2020 have been deferred and are not due to 31 January 2020. I would advise anyone who has a payment of account based on their normal revenue levels but who will now be returning a significantly reduced figure to get their 2019-2020 return filed as soon as possible as they may already have paid that tax and potentially overpaid and be due a refund.

Any other business taxes can be deferred by phoning HMRC and requesting a time to pay arrangement. They are giving a 3 month deferral period. The phone number is 0800 0159 559

I have zero work, 100% has been cancelled. I do not know whether I can furlough myself.

NIALL: per advice from a number of sources including ICAEW, CBI and HM Treasury you can be furloughed. I would be happy to speak you and/or your accountant and pass over relevant info.

Do you know what I am eligible for as I earn via PAYE (but not on any kind of contract) and via self-employed – both via same employer (ie ******)?

NIALL: if they earn via Paye via ****** , ****** should furlough them. It’s difficult to assess what they would have been paid under normal circumstances – happy to speak to them direct if it helps and they can share more details.

My situation is complex – this year (19/20) I’m a Ltd company … last year I had a Ltd company, sole trader and PAYE … every company I work for wants something different!

NIALL: SEISS would be applicable under the sole trader period potentially but one condition is that trade needs to be continuing. Again maybe one for a direct conversation to understand it a bit better.

I’m a freelancer /  sole trader, but having just checked my last three years accounts, I can see that I’ll average above 50k by a infuriatingly small amount.

NIALL: yes unfortunately over £50,000 means you are excluded from the scheme. They should use the figures reported on their SA returns. If 2019-2020 hasn’t been filed there may be some flexibility there and they should speak to their accountant about any additional costs that would bring profit below the level.

I heard the Chancellor say that the 5% of self-employed people not covered by the scheme had an average income of £200,000.  After Tax, I earn less than 40k a year.  50k seems a very arbitrary cut off point to me. Especially for those of us who live in London. 


NIALL: Unfortunately that is the case as it stands. I could accept a cap at £50k but a direct exclusion seems harsh if you are on £50,001.

I was advised to create a small Ltd company from my freelance journo work as that protects you from personal liability if you ever get sued or taken to court etc. Bog standard, thousands of us do that.

NIALL: See earlier comments on Job Retention Scheme. A further consideration may be a potential claw back of Corporation Tax paid in earlier years if the Company reports a loss. This is Loss Carry Back claim. It’s probably best a specialist tax advisor handles it but first point of call would be to mention this to their Accountant and see if it could be applicable to their circumstances.

Id say over seven years I have averaged £35k before paying taxes and of course I don’t enjoy the normal salaries advantages of paid holiday, days off, company pension, health scheme etc

NIALL: See earlier comments on Job Retention Scheme.

In the last three years I have been struggling with issues and have averaged about £10k with he occasional small dividend in region of £2-5K. It is with complete incredulity I read that Sunak thinks we are all on 200k.

NIALL: See earlier comments on Job Retention Scheme.

In the time between losing work and the chancellors announcement, I looked at applying for part time work of which I have been accepted and am due to start next week.

Do you know if I would be able to claim the self employed package and still be able to do the part time work in the meantime upto June?!

NIALL: For this one there are conditions that the trade needs to be continuing (see here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme ) The part time job would be non self employed income so the most likely test is whether the self employed income is still going to remain more than 50% of their income. .

I am classed as freelance that serves a limited company. I have lost all my income and even when we get back to normal as you know will have to fight to get contracts and work. I don’t have enough money to live on if I don’t get government support.

NIALL: See earlier comments on Job Retention Scheme.

This is the ONLY way I am allowed to work. When I worked at ******, it was the terms of my contract. They wouldn’t give me the contract unless I started a limited company. This then continued to be the way at all media companies I have ever worked at. I pay taxes this and in fact I just paid my tax bill and all my VAT.

NIALL: See earlier comments on Job Retention Scheme.

I have no income and no help. I earn less than £50k and like everyone else pay taxes

I know you can get a Business Interruption Loan Scheme but as you said it is a loan, to be paid back, it doesn’t make up for lost income.

NIALL: It’s not clear if you are in same situation as the Owner Directors but see earlier comments on Job Retention Scheme, tax deferral etc as there may be some hope there.

HMRC, the hotline included, believe (but are not sure) you can take on temporary regular work (i.e. through a job agency) until 1 June without losing your eligibility for SEIS (or affecting the size of it). My tax advisor said it should most likely be fine, but mentioned he could only interpret the Chancellor’s scheme as a large chunk of the fine print was missing or left out. It’s nothing major, just something that could become a factor as time goes by.

NIALL: This is similar to one of the questions above re the part time job. The scheme does allow non self employed income as long as the self employed trade will continue as normal other than the effects of the Covid-19 and the non self employed income is less than 50% of total earnings.

A number of us have received an email from HMRC informing them of the new SEISS dispositions. Many others, including me, haven’t. I think it is because our tax returns are filed by our accountants, not by ourselves. Am I right or wrong, and what should we do?

NIALL: Yes I would expect that if your accountant is formally registered with HMRC as your agent they may be receiving the correspondence. Also make sure that postal and email addresses on HMRC.gov.uk login is correct.

Q – I’m rather confused about whether or not I am entitled to apply for UK government support. I’m a full-time freelance journalist, working for UK titles and receiving all of my pay in a UK bank account, but after April 2019 I became a tax resident in a EU country.

However, I did submit an 18/19 tax return in the UK – which seems to be a prerequisite when applying for support – while I was still a British tax resident, and am yet to submit a tax return here as the 2019 accounts aren’t due until the summer. 

Given the lack of help available in Italy, I would be eager to claim UK support if it’s possible, but I’m unsure as to whether I would be able to given my status. 

 

NIALL – This is a slightly difficult one to answer but this would be my advice. The submission of the 2018-19 tax return is an advantage. I believe that the fact that you are receiving your money in UK, even though now a tax resident in another country, will require you to complete a 2019-20 return in UK.  Given the parameters of the self employed support scheme announced I therefore believe that you could make a claim.  HMRC have advised people not to contact but they will write to them if they are able to claim so first test would be to ask if you have received that yet? If so I would proceed and claim.  If not can you check if HMRC have written to you or check online if you have an account with them at hmrc.gov.uk, and see if a 2019-20 return is expected, and if you have already made a payment on account for that period. Final question is to ask if you have formally notified HMRC of your change in tax residency yet?

 

Q – I set up my own small company last June (2019). As with many freelancers, working in sport has seen all of my sources of income stop due to Covid 19. 

The only money left in my business to date is to pay for one more pay day at the end of April.

I’m looking to see what I could be eligible for as I’m massively confused about what is on offer.

NIALL: from these points it would appear that the SEISS would not be available – question: have you informed HMRC you are no longer self employed? If not that is an advantage as HMRC may well write and invite you to apply based on previous results.

 

Q – After the announcement for the self employed last week, I think I would be eligible for the new scheme for those who are classed under self assessment, with profits for 18/19 under £50k – my average over the last 3 years of accounts is under £50k also.

But will HMRC only consider me as a company director now or could I have sneaked in as I paid a tax bill in Jan 2020? The wait until June is excruciating, as you can imagine!

NIALL: I think the key factor is whether the original self employed trade could be classed as continuing. I believe it is but only via the Company so some of the conditions in relation to self employed results for 2019-20 and 20102-21 won’t be met. That said HMRC have said they will write to anyone who can apply, and the 3 year history may mean that you get notified as the company results haven’t been declared yet. It’s somewhat of a grey area and my advice would be to respond to any invitation to apply if and when it is received.

On the company side one area that can be taken advantage of is to defer all taxes (VAT up to 30 June is automatic, monthly Paye and NIC needs to be applied for under this number with HMRC –  0800 0159 559). This will conserve cash.

If there are any customer bills unpaid we can also help get those paid if it is applicable and of interest. 

Q – Could there be scope for a business grant / loan? Is Universal Credit perhaps the only way forward?

NIALL: For a business that started in June 2019 it’s not brilliant as the banks are looking for a solid history of trading – normally 2 years or more. That said it is worth an application and I can help advise what you need and would need to prepare. Your business bank would be 1st point for a claim under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. If that fails I can put it through a broker who has around 100 lenders connected. 

 

Q – As a company, I obviously only pay myself a small salary under £1000 and the rest in dividends – but as we know when it comes to businesses, dividends are not taken into account when trying to claim 80% from the government… simply, which way do you think I should go?

NIALL: On the wage of £1000 you can easily furlough yourself if the trade is at a standstill. However, only the wage would be applicable, not dividends, so it’s a small relief but not ideal.

Vanarama launches emergency support team

Vanarama, title sponsors of the National League and the FWA’s Golf Day, has launched the Covid-19 Small Business Support Team to provide guidance to National League Clubs accessing UK Government funding during pandemic

Vanarama, the UK’s leading independent commercial and personal vehicle leasing company, has launched the intitative to provide information and guidance for clubs, sole traders, the self-employed and small limited companies on how to access the funding available from the UK Government during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are immensely proud to be involved in non-league football and watching the Vanarama National League grow year on year has been truly amazing. We don’t want to see any UK club collapse due to the Covid-19 pandemic,”  said Andy Alderson, CEO and Founder, Vanarama. “We understand that this is an incredibly stressful time for clubs across the country and finding the right government funding can be overwhelming. As a company we pride ourselves in providing industry leading customer service, so, have further invested in training our customer service team so that they can offer sound advice and guide clubs in these difficult times.”

The free to use service provided by Vanarama can be accessed via  Covid-19 Small Business Support Team or by calling 0808 196 3900. Up to date detailed information on all the support that the UK Government is offering as well frequently asked questions from mortgage holidays to life insurance queries can be found here.  The Vanarama Facebook group will provide a secure space for members to discuss issues and share their business stories.   

“This is a fantastic scheme from Vanarama, who have further shown their amazing commitment to our league by offering support and advice in The National Clubs time of need. We know this will give all of our clubs a boost to know they have an expert helping hand through such a difficult period.” Michael Tattersall, CEO National League. 

Vanarama is a member of the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) and invests heavily in the training of its dedicated customer service team, the company was awarded a Service Mark with distinction in 2017.

For more information please contact Madalene Whitson on Madalene.Whitson@autorama.co.uk

Notes to Editor:  About Vanarama

Vanarama is an award-winning commercial and personal vehicle leasing company established by CEO Andy Alderson in 2004 with a team of just three people. The company now employs over 230 at its Hemel Hempstead main office.

The company provides industry-leading customer service and has found investing in that service, and the staff that provide it, to be a successful formula for success.

The company has also been confirmed as a Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work for in the UK in 2016, 2017 and 2018, with Andy Alderson being named Best Leader at the 2017 awards ceremony.

We are and continue to be available where and when our customers need us:

Andy Alderson, CEO and Founder of Vanarama

Sports Freelancer Collective update

NEW SPORTS FREELANCER PROJECTS – UPDATE

As we reported at the end of March, TriNorth Communications, the sports media agency which produces The Blizzard, the NightwatchmanWisden Cricket Monthly and Gridiron magazines, has set up two digital magazines to provide cricket and football freelance writers with regular vehicles for their work.

TriNorth employees have taken pay cuts while those Blizzard writers who could afford to do so generously waived fees in order to get the two magazines off the ground. For cricket fans, the interactive Pinch Hitter, in association with the Nightwatchman, debuted on 3 April and will appear fortnightly. You can take a look at the first issue here – http://www.thenightwatchman.net/pinch-hitter/issue-1/ and pitch ideas to Phil Walker, Jo Harman and Matt Thacker at pinchhitter@trinorth.co.uk.

You can also find out more about what kind of submissions the Pinch Hitter is looking for here – https://www.thenightwatchman.net/news/the-birth-of-the-pinch-hitter

Meanwhile, the first issue of The Squall, the unruly younger sibling to The Blizzard, will come out at the start of May. There is plenty of information about its set-up, as well as the themes of the next few issues, here https://www.theblizzard.co.uk/news/squall-update-april-10

As with the Pinch Hitter, the response from the freelance community has been overwhelming and because of this, The Squall will now appear monthly rather than the originally planned eight times a year, giving additional opportunities for freelancers. The address for pitches to Jonathan Wilson is thesquall@trinorth.co.uk.

And to give you a taster of the first issue, dedicated to right backs, have a look (and a sing-along) at this video that The Squall team have put together

 

So for freelancers, please send in your submissions, ideas and suggestions. TriNorth’s intention is to pay pretty much on submission, even if that submission is for three or four magazines down the line. This won’t always be possible but the more cash that can be generated from the general public, the quicker they can pay, the more freelancers they can use, and the better the rates they can offer.

Finally, the only way the two magazines will survive in the longer term is if people buy them, so please do promote them wherever and whenever you can. All of the blogs on the respective websites have details about how people can buy or donate.

Sports Freelancers Collective update April 10th

Welcome to the Sports Freelancer Collective’s latest update April 10th

HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT SEISS?

A message from Philippe Auclair, FWA co-ordinator of the Sports Freelancer Collective…

Like many of you, I gather, I’ve yet to hear directly or through my accountant from HMRC re SEISS. The SFC would like to get a clearer picture of what is happening (or not happening) in this regard.

For this purpose, we’d like to hear from those of you who think – or know – they are eligible for the scheme.

Just email (philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com) stating:

  • HMRC has been in touch with me
  • HMRC has been in touch with my accountant
  • HMRC has not been in touch either with me or my accountant

Thank you very much for participating in this ‘survey’.

The more of you – who are eligible – respond to it, the better we’ll be able to understand the current situation, and work to protect and promote our cause.

Warning: be aware that phishers and scammers have already used fake SEISS messages purporting to be from HMRC to try and steal data. A friend of mine was targeted on the very evening of Rishi Sunak’s announcement, and my accountant confirmed that other clients of his had also received fraudulent messages. So be extra careful when dealing with emails of this kind.

FROM OUR ACCOUNTANT

Niall McGinnity, who’s been an absolute rock for the SFC, very kindly asked me to share the following information. Just click on the links to access the resources in question.

A SEISS calculator tool and simple guide – helpful to work out eligibility and support levels.

There is also a lobbying effort being made via this online form. This is collating support to lobby the government on the two main holes in current support, namely:

  • Small limited companies with directors who pay themselves in dividends and are not eligible for grants. 
  • Sole traders who set up shop from 6 April 2019 and are not eligible for grants.

TWITTER WATCHDOG

The Treasury Committee is a cross-party group of MPs appointed by The House of Commons and they are here to scrutinise the Treasury. It’s worth following them on Twitter @commonstreasury

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE 

Hardships funds and emergency grants may be accessible via:

ANXIETY

Sports psychotherapist Gary Bloom is happy to speak to anyone via @bloomers57 or emailing info@sportsjournalists.co.uk.

SCAM ALERT

Any freelancer hoping for (or expecting) good news from HMRC please be advised that there are scam texts already circulating which suggest you have been approved a payment and asking for banking details. HMRC will never ask for any personal details – and invitations to apply for the SEISS grant are not due to  go out until June.

HELP FOR PRS

A shout-out for those who may straddle the divide between sports journalism and sports comms, the Public Relations Communications Association (PRCA) are offering six months free membership free.

Anyone who has lost either their job or a significant portion of their income will be able to access plenty of free resources, group virtual events, free webinars, and remote networking – and help them keep their skills up-to-date.

The offer’s open to anyone in the industry – they don’t have to have been a PRCA member. And on the freelancer front, they will taking people’s word for it.

SELF-EMPLOYED INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME Q AND A

Niall McGinnity of Novem9 Ltd has very kindly offered his advice free of charge. Please send your queries to philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com and here is today’s selection.

Q – Am I entitled to apply for UK government support. I’m a full-time freelance journalist, working for UK titles and receiving all of my pay in a UK bank account, but after April 2019 I became a tax resident in a EU country. However, I did submit an 18/19 tax return in the UK while I was still a British tax resident, and am yet to submit a tax return here as the 2019 accounts aren’t due until the summer.

NIALL – The submission of the 2018-19 tax return is an advantage. The fact that you are receiving your money in UK, even though now a tax resident in another country, will require you to complete a 2019-20 return in UK. Given the parameters of the self employed support scheme announced I therefore believe that you could make a claim. HMRC have advised people not to contact but they will write to them if they are able to claim so first test would be to ask if you have received that. If so I would proceed and claim. If not can you check if HMRC have written to you or check online if you have an account with them, and see if a 2019-20 return is expected, and if you have already made a payment on account for that period. Final question is to ask if you have formally notified HMRC of your change in tax residency yet?

Q – I set up my own small company last June (2019). All my sources of income stopped due to Covid 19. The only money left in my business to date is to pay for one more pay day at the end of April. I’m massively confused about what is on offer.

NIALL – From these points it would appear that SEISS would not be available. Have you informed HMRC you are no longer self employed? If not that is an advantage as HMRC may well write and invite you to apply based on previous results.

Q – I think I would be eligible for the new scheme for those who are classed under self assessment with profits for 18/19 under £50k – my average over the last three years of accounts is under £50k also.
But will HMRC only consider me as a company director now or could I have sneaked in as I paid a tax bill in Jan 2020?

NIALL: I think the key factor is whether the original self employed trade could be classed as continuing. I believe it is but only via the company so some of the conditions in relation to self employed results for 2019-20 and 20102-21 won’t be met. HMRC have said they will write to anyone who can apply, and the three-year history may mean that you get notified as the company results haven’t been declared yet. It’s somewhat of a grey area and my advice would be to respond to any invitation to apply if and when it is received. On the company side one area that can be taken advantage of is to defer all taxes (VAT up to 30 June is automatic, monthly Paye and NIC needs to be applied for with HMRC on 0800 0159 559). This will conserve cash.

Q – Could there be scope for a business grant / loan? Is Universal Credit perhaps the only way forward?

NIALL: For a business that started in June 2019 it’s not brilliant as the banks are looking for a solid history of trading – normally 2 years or more. That said it is worth an application and I can advise. Your business bank would be first point for a claim under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Q – As a company, I pay myself a small salary under £1000 and the rest in dividends – but dividends are not taken into account when trying to claim 80per cent from the government… simply, which way do you think I should go?

NIALL: On the wage of £1000 you can easily furlough yourself if the trade is at a standstill. However, only the wage would be applicable, not dividends, so it’s a small relief but not ideal.

 

SFC update Monday March 30

The Sports Freelancer Collective is continuing to explore all avenues with regards assistance for the many self employed who have lost income but who don’t qualify for the government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme. 

SFC is grateful for the pro-bono services of the accountant who has been answering the questions sent in via your feedback to Philippe Auclair. Please bear with us. Your feedback is also helping to steer us as we liaise with other organisations.

In the meantime we have assembled the resources below, which we hope are helpful in these difficult times.

LEGAL ADVICE

Employment lawyer Safwan Afridi of Radcliffes LeBrasseur has very kindly offered to help those of you who may have questions about employment law free of charge. To do so, get in touch with him at Safwan.Afridi@rlb-law.com.

ACCOUNTANCY ADVICE

Niall McGinnity of Novem9 Ltd has very kindly offered his advice free of charge. Please send your queries to philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com

MORTGAGE ADVICE

A mortgage broker has very kindly proposed his services to answer questions about mortgages free of charge. Queries to philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE 

Hardships funds and emergency grants may be accessible via:

The Journalists Charity https://journalistscharity.org.uk/ 

The Authors Guild https://www.authorsguild.org/ 

The British Association of Journalists https://bajunion.org.uk/ 

National Union of Journalists: https://www.nuj.org.uk/work/nuj-extra/how-can-we-help-you/

Society of Authors: https://www.societyofauthors.org/Grants/contingency-funds 

ANXIETY

Sports psychotherapist Gary Bloom is happy to speak to anyone via @bloomers57 or emailing info@sportsjournalists.co.uk

 

Important news for the self-employed

Alison Mitchell, Chair of the Cricket Writers’ Club, with some important news for freelancers and self-employed journalists and broadcasters:

 

“The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has this evening announced a Self-Employed Income Support scheme to help the self-employed who need it most. The Sport Freelancer Collective welcomes this significant move. The scheme is not perfect however, in particular excluding anyone who only recently went self-employed, and not providing support for all who are affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.

We will be looking carefully at the details and we welcome feedback from our members across the spectrum of the Sports Media. Please email philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com putting SEIS in the subject line.

The Scheme

If you’re Self-Employed and your average annual profit over the last 3 years is £50,000 or less, you will be able to apply for a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly profits over that period, up to £2500/mth. This will be payable for at least 3 months, accessible in June, whereupon a backdated lump sum payment will be made. 

To qualify, you must 

– make the majority of your income from self-employment

– have filed a Tax Return for 2018/19

– have profits of £50k or less based on last 3yrs average

You can keep working and earning as a freelancer, even after accessing this support.

But I missed the January filing deadline for my 2018/19 Tax Return

If you get your tax return in within the next 4 weeks you’ll be eligible.

But I can’t wait for my payment until June?

The measures listed at the bottom of this page are expected to help with cashflow until the grant arrives, eg tax deferrals, mortgage deferrals.

What if my circumstances are complex?

There is a lot to learn about how all this applies to: 

1) Freelancers who earn income ‘PAYE employed for tax purposes’ 

2) Directors of Limited Companies 

3) Those who earn income from a combination of those sources

 

At the SFC, we’re not financial experts, so please speak to an accountant about your personal situation

Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert has done a special edition of his TV programme on ITV (available on catch-up). He is asking the Treasury some of these questions. 

See his summary here: https://twitter.com/MartinSLewis/status/1243490513413640193?s=20

 

Paul Lewis, presenter of BBC’s Moneybox on the News Channel, is available on iPlayer. 

What if I’m excluded?

The scheme excludes a lot of people, including those who earn profits above £50,000 and still have large bills and costs to meet, and in particular, those who only recently went self-employed. The measures available to help all self-employed are listed at the bottom of this page. Most are tax/payment deferrals (and the payments will always need to be paid eventually), with Universal Credit the only income scheme.

The Sport Freelancer Collective wants to hear your feedback on the situation as it stands. Please email philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com putting SEIS in the subject line.

We will keep up a pressing dialogue with those in authority. As it stands, there is no upper income floor for salaried employees who may be furloughed, with the government covering 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 per month. Note however that a furloughed employee CANNOT do any other work for their employer while their job is on hold; a self-employed person can receive support and still continue to earn where they can.

As a Sole Trader or Director of a Ltd Company, you run a business and will be eligible for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-52005137 Again, this is a loan, to be paid back, it doesn’t make up for lost income.

Measures to support freelancers already announced include:

– access to Universal Credit to be paid at the rate of Statutory Sick Pay £94.25/week, and suspension of the minimum income floor

– deferral of Self-Assessment income tax from July 2020 to January 2021

– deferral of this quarter’s VAT payments to June 2020

(Remember all taxes will still need to be paid, just at a later date, alongside the other taxes that will be due at that time)

– deferral of mortgage payments by 3 months (be aware your mortgage payments may then be higher when you do resume payments, depending on your arrangements) 

– Renters have been helped with £1bn of support, increasing housing benefit and Universal Credit so that Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in an area 

– Some local authorities are offering deferral of Council Tax payments. Do check your Council’s website.

All details here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

We also encourage you to follow:

IPSE https://www.ipse.co.uk/

NUJ https://www.nuj.org.uk/home/

Freelance writing opportunities from TriNorth

STATEMENT – NEW SPORTS FREELANCER PROJECTS

In light of the ongoing situation, the people who work at TriNorth Communications, the sports media agency which produces The Blizzard, the Nightwatchman, Wisden Cricket Monthly and Gridiron magazines, have decided they would like to do their bit for the freelance community.

Here is a tremendous opportunity outlined by Matt Thacker, of TriNorth.  We are indebted to them for their generosity and initiative:

“At TriNorth, we are all lucky enough to have full-time jobs. Like everybody else, we can’t guarantee for how long, but we are aware of the even more precarious nature of freelance life around the world at the moment and it did not take much persuading for our staff to agree to foregoing a significant element of their salaries for the next few months and possibly beyond so that we could set up a fund to support freelancers. We are all aware of the importance of freelancers to our products, of the friendships we have built with them, of the feeling of kinship we share with them.

We have therefore, slightly counter-intuitively in a world where everything seems to be scaling back, decided to introduce two new digital magazines, the Pinch Hitter, in association with the Nightwatchman, and The Squall, the unruly younger sibling to The Blizzard.

The former, which will appear approximately fortnightly starting from 3 April, will initially be funded by TriNorth’s salary sacrifices; the latter (planned at eight issues over 12 months starting in May) by the incredibly generous gestures from contributors to the Blizzard, led by editor Jonathan Wilson. Between them, the 65 writers who contributed pieces to, or spoke at events for, The Blizzard in the 2019-20 period, have waived over £5,500 and counting of fees, meaning we can start commissioning with confidence.

It will not be possible to fund the products in this way forever of course (the intention at this stage is for both products to have a lifespan of as long as the current situation lasts) and we will therefore also put both magazines on sale on a pay-what-you-can basis. The more support we can get for this from the freelance community in terms of promotion, the better. And we have today set up two bank accounts – one for each magazine – so that we can ensure all revenues generated will be reinvested into these magazines. If they turn into something that people want to keep going, and that benefit the freelance community, then we’d be delighted.

You’ll find more about the two products and how to pitch to contribute to them at the end of this statement.

We are aware that a package is on its way for freelancers and first signs are that it looks promising. But we are also aware that there are plenty of freelancers out there – writers, photographers, videographers, illustrators, podcasters – who will find the measures do not help them out of the hole they are in right now. And we know that these government measures, when they do come in, will be for those working in the UK. Our freelancers span the globe and not all are being offered such a package. Furthermore, we know that the current situation is not just about money. It is about doing your job, taking pride in turning a sentence, taking a great photo, telling a great story, getting that game-changing interview. Pride in your work, producing the finished product – the psychological impact is huge. Mental health is never to be treated lightly, but especially not now. We want to give freelancers a platform to strut their stuff, to play their shots.

As with anything we do, there will be a fairly rigorous quality control process involved – the content produced has to be good and the magazines have to be engaging for people to read.

So please send in your submissions, ideas and suggestions and hopefully we’ll be able to make a small difference. Our intention is to pay pretty much on submission, even if that submission is for three or four magazines down the line. This won’t always be possible but the more cash we can generate from the general public, the quicker we can pay, the more freelancers we can use, and the better the rates we can offer.”

 

Matt Thacker matt@trinorth.co.uk
FULL BRIEF FOR THE SQUALL
from The Blizzard editor Jonathan Wilson thesquall@trinorth.co.uk
The Squall will be (a lot) shorter than The Blizzard but (a lot) longer than The Flurry (our newsletter). It will be 11 pieces of between 500 and 2500 words on a selected theme (so a total of 15-20,000 words). Our first issue (May; deadline 15 April) will be on the theme of The Right-Back. Feel free to interpret that as freely as you like. Pitch on individual right-backs, great or small; on the changing nature of the role; on best goals by right-backs; worst fouls by right-backs; right-backs in film or song; clubs who’ve had a run or great or terrible right-backs… be as creative as you can. If you’re a photographer, perhaps you have a series of pictures of one particular right-back, or maybe a series of different right-backs taking throw-ins? As ever with Blizzard products, be inventive and original, find details, devise theories, be funny, don’t be constrained by what we’ve seen before. 
 
The address for pitching to Jonathan is thesquall@trinorth.co.uk  and you’ll find more detail about the other seven issues as soon as we can get it up on the website at http://www.theblizzard.co.uk – get your pitches (and submissions) in early. At the moment as potential themes, we’re looking at: Brits Abroad; Kits; the Printed Word; Animals; Oedipus; Grounds; Sliding Doors; Short-Lived Tournaments and Reserves but that may change. If you’ve got a decent idea for them, let us know.
 
Meanwhile The Blizzard will continue to run as usual, coming out in June (deadline 10 April), September (10 July), December (10 October). They tend not to be tightly themed, so pitch any ideas you have. The original idea with The Blizzard was that it should be for those pieces you’d always dreamed of writing but had never had the opportunity – something that you know about and nobody else does. Don’t think of this as a regular job – in almost a decade we’ve had more than 300 contributors because it should be the one thing that’s been burning away, that you feel you have to write.
 
Previously we always paid a percentage of profit at the end of our tax year. That both seemed fair – everybody benefited proportionally to what they’d done – and also allowed us to start up without any outside investment or worrying too much about advertising revenues. However, we realise in the present circumstances that’s not ideal for struggling freelancers, so for The Blizzard we’ll start paying a flat rate of £105/1000 published words (rounded to nearest 500) on publication of each issue. If it’s possible to increase that over time, we will.