Outrage sparked after an interview by ITV paraphrased a statement by U.K. Chancellor Rishi Sunak. ITV initially claimed that the he suggested musicians and other creatives needed to “retrain and find new jobs” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They have since changed their article to reflect that Sunak’s statement was aimed at people from “all walks of life.”
The statement was still enough to stir up controversy and opinions on either side of the floor. One Labour Party MP, Kevin Brennan, was particularly bothered by the Chancellor’s statement. In his retort during a debate yesterday, Brennan made it clear that he believes that jobs held by musicians, artists, and other creatives are “proper real jobs in the fastest growing sector of our economy.”
Brennan went on to say that Sunak’s opinion on the matter painted him as the “Aunt Mimi” of the U.K. government – an allusion to John Lennon‘s aunt who told him to never pursue music.
Sunak’s new job support scheme replaces the previously established furlough with a grant from the government for employees working at least one third of their typical hours that would round wages out to equate to the pay of a normal work week. The initiative has been heavily criticized by employees in the events and nightlife industries, some of whom are not attaining that many hours and others whom aren’t able to work at all.
The U.K.’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) would be extended to April 2021 under Sunak’s proposal. Significant reductions to benefits granted to the self-employed would be made, however, spelling trouble for the vast majority of the U.K. nightlife industry. Those employees would have to apply for separate grants for a term from November through January, and another from February through April. The grants would cap out at only 20% of the employees’ average monthly earnings.
A petition started by Jasper Levine was started earlier this month to extend funding from the £1.57 billion support package from the government for Britain’s arts and culture sector to nightclubs, music events, and festivals. To date, it has accrued over 100,000 signatures.