A group of over 150 of the BBC’s PAYE freelancers have sent an open letter to BBC DG Tony Hall calling on him to lobby government on their behalf as they are still falling through the gaps of government support during the COVID-19 crisis.

Currently, BBC PAYE freelancers who work on the corporation’s Public Service output have been told by BBC HR that they cannot be furloughed as part of the Job Retention Scheme for employees “because BBC Public Service does not qualify for the Government’s Job Retention Scheme as a public sector organisation.” But because their PAYE earnings make up more than half of their annual income they are also ineligible for the government’s Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The group of freelancers note Tony Hall, and the other broadcasters’ “sensible proposals to the DMCS last month to amend the SEISS to cover PAYE freelancers.” The letter asks Lord Hall how the government responded to those proposals and what the BBC is now doing to help ensure its own PAYE freelancers are not left behind.

An Open Letter to the BBC’s Director General from over 150 of its PAYE freelancers 

#ForgottenFreelancers #NoCreativeLeftBehind 

May 13th 2020 

 

Lord Tony Hall 

BBC Director General’s Office 

New Broadcasting House 

Portland Place 

London 

W1A 1AA 

 

Dear Tony, 

We are all PAYE freelancers who regularly work in a wide range of production roles across BBC Public Service output. Unfortunately, we find ourselves writing this open letter to you with an urgency close to desperation. 

As you’ll know, freelancers whose PAYE earnings make up more than half of their annual income are ineligible for the government’s Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), while BBC HR have stated we cannot be furloughed either “because BBC Public Service does not qualify for the Government’s Job Retention Scheme as a public sector organisation.” 

We were encouraged, however, by the letter you co-wrote with other major broadcasters to the Culture Secretary and The Chancellor of the Exchequer on April 3rd, which pointed out the risk of freelancers paid through PAYE “unintentionally falling through the cracks” of the furloughing and freelance schemes announced by the Chancellor the week before. 

In the letter, viewable here – http://www.televisual.com/news-detail/Broadcasters-join-to-ask-DCMS-for-freelancer-help_nid-8706.html – you and your fellow broadcasting executives helpfully proposed amendments to the SEISS intended to resolve the issue without the need for the creation of a new scheme. Among these was the suggestion that HMRC’s PAYE and tax records “could be used to establish eligibility for the same assistance as other freelancers who trade in different ways.” The letter concluded by stating “there is no time to be lost” and that you would “do everything we can to work with government and HMRC to try to implement this sort of solution to the problem”. 

Five weeks since that welcome intervention into this matter, as far as we are aware, there have been no such changes to the SEISS and no solution to the problem. Could you please update us on the response from government and HMRC to the broadcasters’ proposals? 

Sustained cross-sector lobbying by unions, cross-party MPs and individual workers continues, notably under the #ForgottenFreelancers banner, with the goal of ensuring the precarious situation of freelancers is recognised and addressed through effective policy changes. 

In what is clearly a vital period, can we also ask you what the BBC is doing to lobby government – as it did in that joint-letter with other broadcasters last month – to ensure that PAYE freelancers like us do not continue to fall through the gaps of government support? And is there anything you’d suggest we can do to help these efforts? 

As is to be expected, many of us have unfortunately seen our freelance bookings severely reduced or, perhaps in most cases, vanish entirely as a result of the current pandemic. Getting through these difficult times is tough enough, but our ineligibility for the existing income support schemes is further impacting on both our finances and our mental health. 

In a recent union survey on how Covid-19 is affecting the creative freelance community, over 50% of respondents said they were actively considering leaving the industry so disillusioned are they at their treatment during this crisis. We are aware too that many of the most junior and financially vulnerable freelance workers in the broadcast industry are engaged on casual PAYE freelance terms. 

Yesterday, the Chancellor extended his furlough scheme for employees, protecting many millions of incomes for months to come. As yet there has been no announcement concerning changes to or an extension of the SEISS. Now is the time to act. We must lobby hard to secure the much-needed support for PAYE freelancers, at the BBC and beyond, who are currently frozen out through no fault of their own, otherwise they face an extended period of unemployment and hardship. We hope we can rely on the BBC to play its part. 

Please note that a copy of this correspondence is being distributed to media editors across the UK. 

Yours Sincerely, 

Letter Signees (157) 

Matt Walker, Assistant Producer, BBC Sport 

Ian Williams, Broadcast Journalist, BBC London & World Service 

Simon Hancock, Broadcast Journalist, Asian Network and World Service 

Stuart Clarkson, Senior Broadcast Journalist and Newsreader, 5 live 

Matt Gregory, Journalism Researcher, Red Button & Sport live 

Kirsty Starkey-Midha, Radio producer, Radio 4 and Factual 

Niamh Lewis, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Sport 

Emma Priestly, Assistant Producer, BBC Sport 

Joe Canavan, Researcher & Assistant Producer, BBC Sport 

Kevin McGrath, Newsreader, 5 live 

Katherine White, Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC Radio News 

Nick Quraishi, Presenter & Newsreader, Radio 2, 5 live, World Service, TV News, BBC Voice 

Alice Rosenthal, Broadcast Journalist, BBC News 

Jamie Reid, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Radio London 

Rudabah Kermani, Presenter, BBC Voice 

Nigel Bidmead, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Radio London 

Kris Temple, Sports Broadcaster, BBC Radio Solent 

Loran Rose Treen, Assistant Producer, Network Radio & Factual 

Alastair Ross, Broadcaster & Producer, World Service Sport 

Rob Schofield, Broadcaster and Producer, BBC Sport 

Mike Powell, Presenter, Reporter & Producer, Network Radio & World Service Business 

Beth Timmins, Broadcast Journalist, World Service 

Kirsty Manley, Broadcast Journalist, World Service & Network Radio 

Nyasha Michell, Broadcast Journalist, World Service 

Lee Hetherington, Presenter & Producer, 5 live & BBC Local Radio 

Amelia Jones, Assistant Producer, BBC Sport 

Ant Sullivan, Assistant Producer, BBC Sport 

Olivere Chase, Assistant Producer, BBC Sport 

Malika Fachrou, Broadcast Journalist, BBC News 

Rosie Stopher, Assistant producer and Radio journalist, Network Radio & Factual 

Victoria Holland, Video & Digital Journalist, Look North, 5 live & BBC Radio Manchester 

Chris Harding, Producer, BBC Radio Wales 

Harry Poole, Online Journalist, BBC Sport 

James Gregg, Broadcaster & Producer, Network Radio & World Service Sport 

Shaun Hassett, Broadcast Journalist, BBC World News 

Ian Wilding, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Radio Solent 

Jordan Clark, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Radio Solent 

Dom Busby, Broadcaster, 5 live 

Thomas Gayle, Broadcaster & Producer, 5 live, World Service & BBC Sport 

Nicole Ray, Presenter, BBC Radio Leeds 

Freddie Tennyson, Broadcast Journalist, BBC News, BBC World, BBC Voice & BBC Minute 

Alydia Noble, Broadcast Journalist, BBC World 

Anusha Kumar, Producer, BBC News 

Natalia Bradford, Researcher and Producer, World Service & 5 live 

Ishleen Kaur, Producer, World Service & BBC World News 

Sophie Tran-Thomson, Broadcast Journalist, BBC World News 

James Ransley, Broadcast Journalist, BBC World News 

Lauren Moore, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Radio London 

Al Booth, Presenter and Reporter, BBC Local Radio 

Thomas Stewart, Digital Producer, 5 live 

Kerry Gordon, TV operations, BBC Scotland 

Emma Cluley, Broadcast Journalist & Assistant Producer, BBC Sport & Digital 

Heather Andrews, TV operations, BBC Scotland 

Fiona Starrs, Sound Supervisor, BBC Scotland 

Patrick Kiteley, Producer, 5 live 

Keith Forbes, TV operations, BBC Scotland 

Jenn Daly, TV & Radio Sound Assistant, BBC Scotland & BBC Radio Scotland 

Craig Nelson, Online Researcher & Broadcast Journalist, BBC Sport 

Kathryn Armstrong, Broadcast Journalist, BBC World News 

Hayley Pollock, Sound Assistant, BBC Scotland 

Michelle Shields, Floor manager, BBC Scotland 

Anna Hodges, Broadcast Journalist, 5 live and Newsbeat 

Amanda Perry, Production Coordinator 

Fraser Walker, Runner, BBC Scotland 

Miriam Walker-Khan, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Sport 

Gav Murchie, Audio Supervisor, BBC Scotland 

Jodie Troup, Audience Champion, BBC Scotland 

Brian Reid, Audience Champion, Scheduler & Driver, BBC Scotland 

Kostas Giamarelos, Camera Operator/Assistant, BBC Scotland 

Raymond Houston, Camera Operator, BBC Scotland 

Belinda MacDonald, Vision Supervisor, BBC Scotland 

Fiona Johnstone, Audio Supervisor, BBC Radio Scotland 

Rhian McAuley, Producer, Sports News & World Service 

David Cook, Researcher, BBC Scotland 

Nicola Harrison, Autocue Operator, BBC Politics 

Barry Jackson, Audio Supervisor, BBC Scotland 

Murray Collier, Audio Supervisor, BBC Scotland 

Sara Jayne Mattinson, Audio Supervisor BBC Scotland 

Poppy Walmsley, Producer, BBC Children’s & Education 

Jenna Gahagan, Camera Assistant, BBC Scotland 

Leigh Small, Graphic Designer, BBC Sport 

Sandy Johnston, Assistant Producer, BBC Sport 

Katie Bailey, Assistant Producer, BBC Sport 

Abby Trotter, Production Management Assistant, BBC Sport 

Kim Crowther, Drama Producer, BBC Sport 

Henry William Louis, Assistant Producer, Network Radio & Live Events/Music 

Kate Dalzell, Costume Standby, BBC Scotland 

Marc Tudor-Edwards, Presenter, TV Sports News 

Simon Smith, Scenic Operator, BBC Scotland 

Tarquin Penman, Audio Supervisor, BBC Radio Scotland 

Sophie Guise, Costume Standby, BBC Scotland 

Alex McKay, 2nd Assistant Director, BBC Scotland 

Thomas Curtis, Camera/Studio Operator, East Midlands Today 

Emma Peach, Gallery PA, BBC Children’s & North West Tonight 

Dan Hudson, Producer, Radio 1 & 1Xtra 

Beth Smith, Technical Operator, East Midlands Today 

Will Broadbent, Station Sound Producer, BBC Radio Manchester 

Donna Bowyer, Camera Operator, East Midlands Today 

Kathryn Parker, Video Journalist & Producer, Digital Current Affairs 

Juliette Ivie, Assistant Producer, 6 Music and Radio 2 

Robert Beck, Assistant Producer, BBC Education 

Sarah Ebockayuk, Assistant Producer, Radio 1, 1Xtra & Asian Network 

Kate Mead, producer, Panorama & Arabic 

Simon Ritchie, Producer, 6 Music, Radio 2 & BBC Radio Manchester 

Carissa Jumu, Video Journalist & Assistant Producer, BBC Stories 

Steve Bull, Audio Supervisor and Technical Operator, BBC Radio Scotland & Alba 

Mike Perkins, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Sports News 

Dena May Thanopoulos, Costume Assistant, BBC Scotland 

Ross McGinnes, Online Journalist, BBC Sport 

Maxence Peigne, Broadcast Journalist, World Service and Radio 4 

Andy Darbyshire, Floor Manager, BBC Children’s 

Kate Forshaw, Assistant Producer, BBC Learning 

Afia Kufuor, Assistant Producer, Radio 1 & 1Xtra 

David Mooney, Broadcast Journalist, 5 live 

Rob King, Producer and Director, BBC Sport & BBC Three 

Nicola Corrigan, Runner, BBC Children’s 

Scott Dickinson-Moore, Assistant Producer, BBC Sport 

Nikesh Rughani, Broadcaster, BBC News & BBC Sport 

Paul Hawkins, Broadcaster, BBC News & BBC London 

Andrea Bennett, Producer, Radio 1, 1Xtra & Asian Network 

Rachel Stanton, Broadcast journalist, BBC World News 

Jim Fallon, Audio Supervisor, BBC Scotland 

Gareth Bird, Broadcast Assistant & Producer, BBC Radio Manchester 

Paul Harrison, Broadcast Journalist, BBC News & BBC Sport 

Michael James Gallivan, 1st Assistant Director, BBC Children’s 

Nick Hatton, Broadcast Journalist & Producer, 5 live & World Service 

Adam Campbell, Tech Op, BBC Yorkshire 

Nicola Henry, Runner, BBC Children’s 

Laura Cain, Broadcast Journalist, World Service & Radio 4 

Sunita Jaswal, Broadcast Journalist, BBC World News 

Helena Webb, Broadcast Journalist, Radio 1, 1Xtra & Radio 4 

Chris Hemmings, Broadcast Journalist & Reporter, BBC News Channel 

Louise Mason, Music Journalist & Producer, 6 Music 

Guy Phenix, Assistant Producer, BBC Education 

Qandeel Shaam, Broadcast Journalist, BBC World News 

Tim Arstall, Assistant Producer, Radio 1, 1Xtra & Asian Network 

Leila Al-Mitwally, Assistant Producer, Radio 1, 1Xtra, Asian Network & Radio 2 

Zofia Hare, Content Assistant, Radio 1 & 1Xtra 

Dom Stirling, Producer, Radio 1, 1Xtra, Asian Network 

Nels Hylton, Assistant Producer, Radio 2 

Rebecca Jacques-Parr, Art Department, The One Show 

Matt Soanes, Broadcast Journalist, 5 live and BBC Local Radio 

Jessi Rumble, Production Management Assistant, BBC North 

Melissa Feather, Broadcast Assistant, Midlands Today 

Max Bower, Assistant Producer & Researcher, Radio 4 

Maisie Craddock, Production Management Assistant, BBC Children’s 

Yousef Anani, Broadcast Journalist, Newsgathering 

Usman Arshad, Tech Op, BBC Yorkshire/Look North 

Peter Neill, Tech Op, English Regions 

Freya Phillips, Researcher, BBC Education 

Suraiyyah Jeewa, Assistant Producer, Radio 1, 1Xtra & Asian Network 

Meghan Owen, Broadcast Journalist, BBC London 

Lily Hogg, Art Department, The One Show 

Robin Hogg, Camera Department, BBC Yorkshire 

David Lewis, Broadcast Journalist, BBC World News & World Service 

Stephanie Prentice, Broadcast Journalist, BBC World Service 

Julian Perkins, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Radio Berkshire 

Additional Supporters 

Phillip Coulter, Assistant Producer, BBC Studios 

Kate Vines, Development Executive, BBC Studios 

Catherine Pollock, Production Coordinator, BBC Studios 

Marika Cronnolly, Assistant Producer, BBC Studios 

Dylan Cargill, Freelance Junior Researcher, BBC Studios 

James McBrien, Freelance Researcher, BBC Studios 

Fergus Cruickshank, Freelance Camera Assistant, BBC Studios 

Laura Sleep, Freelance Post Production-Coordinator, BBC Studios 

Valentina Tschismarov, Freelance Digital Technician, BBC Studios 

Edwin Rothwell, Freelance Assistant Producer, BBC Studios 

Aisling Ni Ghioinn, Costume Assistant, BBC Studios 

Elliott Wengler, Team Assistant, BBC Studios 

Kim Crowther, Drama Producer, CBBC 

Winnie Agbonlahor, Producer, BBC World News 

Jon Creamer