Budget 2021 and the Arts

See relevant information here:

Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)
The new weekly payment structure is as below:

  • for individuals who earn €400 and over- the rate of payment is €350
  • for individuals who earn between €300 and €399.99 per week – the rate of payment is €300 
  • for individuals who earn between €200 and €299.99 per week – the rate of payment is €250 
  • for individuals who earn less than €200 per week – the rate of payment is €203 
    More information on the PUP can be found here.
    Christmas Bonus
    A Christmas Bonus of 100% will be paid in early December 2020 to people getting a long-term social welfare payment (minimum payment €20).
    The bonus will also be paid to people getting PUP and jobseeker’s payments for at least 4 months.

Update to Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)
Changes to the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme were announced last night. The new weekly payment structure is below. 

  • for individuals earning between 0 and €151- no subsidy €0
  • for individuals earning >€151 < €203 – the rate of payment is €203
  • for individuals earning >€203 < €300 – the rate of payment is €250
  • for individuals earning >€300 < €400 – the rate of payment €300
  • for individuals earning >€400< €1,462- the rate of payment is €350
    We are awaiting Revenue’s update publication on the scheme, pending that more detail can be found here.
     
    Debt warehousing for self-assessed taxpayers
    The tax debt warehousing scheme will be extended to taxpayers who self-assess for income tax that are adversely impacted by Covid-19. Impacted taxpayers who cannot pay their 2019 balance and preliminary tax for 2020 can defer payment for 12 months. If income for 2021 is also at least 25% lower than income for 2019, the balance of 2020 balance and 2021 Preliminary Tax can also be warehoused. Debts that are warehoused are subject to 0% interest for 12 months. After this 12-month period, a reduced interest rate of 3% per annum will apply and no surcharge will apply. More information can be found here https://www.revenue.ie/en/tax-professionals/ebrief/2020/no-1902020.aspx
    https://www.revenue.ie/en/tax-professionals/ebrief/2020/no-1902020.aspx
     
    Income Tax
    There are no changes to the standard or higher rate income tax bands.
    The Earned Income Tax Credit for the self-employed will increase from €1,500 to €1,650. This increase will also be applied for the 2020 tax year.
    The Dependent Relative Tax Credit will increase from €70 to €245.
     
    Universal Social Charge (USC)
    The ceiling of the 2% band will increase from €20,484 to €20,687, so that the salary of a full-time worker on the minimum wage will remain outside the higher rates of USC.
    The weekly income threshold for the higher rate of employer’s PRSI will increase from €394 to €398 to ensure that there is no incentive to reduce the working hours for a full-time employee on the increased minimum wage.
    Medical card holders will continue to pay a reduced rate of USC until the end of December 2021.
     
    Payments to families
    The weekly rate for a qualified child will increase by €2 from €36 to €38 for children under 12 years of age. It will increase by €5 from €40 to €45 for children aged 12 years and over (from January 2021).
  • The One-Parent Family Payment earnings threshold of €425 will be removed (from April 2021).
  • Working Family Payment income thresholds will increase by €10 per week for families with up to 3 children (from January 2021).
  • Parent’s Benefit will be extended by 3 weeks from 2 weeks to 5 weeks for parents of children born or adopted from November 2019. The period it can be taken will be extended up to your child’s second birthday or within 2 years following adoption (from April 2021).
  • The Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant will increase by €2,000 from €6,000 to €8,000 (from January 2021).
  • Disability and illness payments
    The number of waiting days for Illness Benefit will be reduced from 6 days to 3 days on new claims (from the end of February 2021).
    The earnings disregard for Disability Allowance will increase by €20 per week from €120 to €140 per week (from June 2021).
    A grant of up to €500 to buy hearing aids and up to €100 towards repairs will be provided under the Treatment Benefit Scheme without requiring a matching payment by the claimant (from April 2021).
     
    State pension age
    The qualifying age for a State pension will continue to be 66. Legislation will be introduced later in 2020 to reverse the increase in pension age to 67 currently included in social welfare legislation.

    Fuel Allowance
    The Fuel Allowance will increase by €3.50 per week from €24.50 to €28 (from January 2021).

    Living Alone Increase
    The Living Alone Increase will increase by €5 per week from €14 to €19 (from January 2021).
     
    Increase for living on a specified island

    The Increase for living on a specified island will increase by €7.30 from €12.70 to €20 per week (from January 2021).
     
    Carers
    The Carer’s Support Grant will increase by €150 from €1,700 to €1,850 per year (from June 2021)
     
    COVID-19 Business supports

    The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme will continue until 31 March 2021. Supports under a similar scheme are likely to continue from 1 April 2021. The Government has applied to the EU SURE fund (the European Instrument for Temporary Support to Mitigate Unemployment Risks) for additional funding. This fund is part of the European response to help protect jobs and workers affected by COVID-19.
     
    Any employer who received excess amounts of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme must refund the overpayment to Revenue. An employer may be unable to repay the overpayment immediately, due to the impact of Covid-19 on their business, and the existing tax debt warehousing scheme will be expanded to include these repayments.
     
    The Covid Enterprise Support Grant payments have been extended until 31 March 2021. The grant is worth up to €1,000 and is aimed at sole traders who got the Government’s Restart Grant Plus.
    The waiving of commercial rates due to local authorities has been extended until the end of 2020 to support businesses impacted by COVID-19.
     
    Other COVID-19 supports include:
  • €39 million in continued access to low cost loans for business
  • €30 million for applied research in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry
  • €10 million to help businesses move online with the Online Retail Scheme
     
    COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS)

    A new COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) has been set up, aimed at businesses impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.
    Qualifying businesses can apply to Revenue for a cash payment. The maximum weekly payment will be €5,000. The scheme is aimed at those in the accommodation, food and arts, recreation and entertainment sectors. If the Government decides to move to a higher level of restrictions then other sectors may qualify.
    The scheme will run from 13 October 2020 until 31 March 2021.
    The following measures will apply:
  • Payments will be made when Level 3 restrictions or higher are in place in line with the Plan for Living with COVID-19
  • Businesses will qualify where government restrictions directly prohibit or restrict customer access to their premises
  • Payments will be calculated on the basis of 10% of the first €1 million in turnover and 5% thereafter, based on average VAT exclusive turnover for 2019
  • A self- assessment of 80% disruption in turnover will be required

Irish Equity calls for more support for Arts workers

Irish Equity has said that Budget 2021 does not provide enough support for artists, theatre and entertainment workers.

Karan O Loughlin, Irish Equity Organiser, said: “While the announcement by Arts minister, Catherine Martin, of critical investment in the Arts is broadly welcome, there is not enough focus on retaining artists and arts workers in the sector.

“Artists and workers are being prevented from working because of the restrictions on gatherings and they need urgent and ongoing financial support. With the Arts, Culture and Entertainment expected to be hit harder by job losses than any other sector of the economy, funding must targeted towards those artists and creatives who are most exposed. 

“Irish Equity seeks to ensure that the funding announced in the budget promptly and directly benefits our members including actors, directors and theatre makers, dancers, designers, stage managers and other creatives. These people are the backbone of the creative industry. We also want to see funding channelled into building sustainability in the Arts.   

“For Irish Equity representatives, negotiations on better pay and conditions are just one feature of our work and we also campaign for a sustainable environment for workers. Being a member of the union is even more important for those employed in the Arts and Entertainment as this public health crisis continues.”  

Karan O’Loughlin was speaking at the release of a promotional video created by Irish Equity and highlighting the importance of the work done by the union on behalf of its members. 

The video features some of Ireland’s finest acting talent, discussing why membership of Irish Equity is important and the protections it offers them in the frequently precarious freelance world.  It also demonstrates the rich and rapidly growing diversity among the membership of Irish Equity.

Watch the video now

Irish Equity Housing Survey

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause utter devastation right across the Arts, more and more performers, theatre makers and practitioners, musicians, entertainers, events and other workers are continuing to feel the financial strain of not being able to meet their obligations and in particular, their rent. 

In the link below, we have created a short survey to gather information to make the case for specific rent supports for your sector as it was the first to shut down and will in all likelihood be the last to reopen. We have harrowing testimonials from some artists about their accommodation situation before this pandemic but the shut sown of the sector has further exacerbated their situation.  

If you are in a rented property please take a few minutes to click on the link (its also phone friendly) and share it with other artists and arts workers.

Click here to fill out the survey

Level 3 – What this means for the Arts

The Government Roadmap Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 can be found here https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/resilience-recovery-2020-2021-plan-for-living-with-covid-19/?referrer=http://www.gov.ie/roadmap/

What does the Government Roadmap mean for the Arts on level 3 

Organised indoor gatherings – These are controlled environments with a named event organiser, owner or manager. For example: business, training events, conferences, events in theatres and cinemas or other arts events (excluding sport). Under level 3 – No organised indoor gatherings should take place.

Organised outdoor gatherings – These are controlled environments with a named event organiser, owner or manager. For example: outdoor arts events, training events. Under level 3 – Gatherings of up to 15 people can take place.

Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions – Under level 3 – All venues closed. Libraries will be available for e-services and call and collect.

Bars, cafes and restaurants (including hotel restaurants and bars):- Under level 3 – These venues may remain open for take-away and delivery and outdoor dining or service to an absolute maximum of 15 people except Dublin where wet pubs in Dublin are to remain closed. All Nightclubs, discos and casinos will remain closed.

Returning to Work in the Audio Visual Sector

Returning to work in the Audio Visual sector – see the industry guidance documents for safe working in Film and TV Drama (live action) and Factual and Entertainment here

Irish Equity concerned at remarks by Minister for Social Protection about artists

Irish Equity members have welcomed the clarification by the Minister for Social Protection, Community and Rural Development, Heather Humphreys, on her earlier comments made last weekend regarding the future expectations of work within the Arts in Ireland.

Irish Equity spokesperson, Karan O Loughlin said: “As artists prepare for hopeful signs of a managed return to what they do best the Minister for Social Protection it appeared, had already concluded that ‘some jobs will never return and there is no point in waiting for the never never.’

“Our members in Irish Equity were extremely disappointed at the comments as we would have expected a more considered and enlightened approach from a person that previously had responsibility for the Arts. 

“After barely a month in her new post, the Minister consigned thousands of hard-working and highly skilled artists to a future with no hope of working in their chosen field again. Instead, she wanted artists and other experienced workers to ‘re-skill, re-train and look at other jobs they can take up’. Ms Humphreys has now issued a clarification of her remarks which our members have welcomed. 

“Artists in this country are already incredibly skilled people. We recognise the impact of Covid-19 across all sectors of Irish society and what we need now is to hear what plans and creative supports are being prepared by the Government to assist people go back to their jobs. We need to see a strategy that will allow our renowned artists to get back to making world class art, not the bleak and ill-considered diagnosis that consigns artists to the bin.

“The Ministers’ comments came at a time when the first tentative steps are being taken towards a return to live theatre, with Bewley’s Café Theatre staging a performance by Michael Ford in the premises of The Irish Georgian Society in Dublin. Other events in the city include a series of short plays being staged in The International Bar by Peter Reid and selected readings from Christine Dwyer Hickey’s book Tattyat The New Theatre.”

“There was no suggestion that our artists should re-train and go and look for other jobs while they were keeping the population entertained and engaged all through lockdown,” Karan O Loughlin said. “Irish Equity members will continue to work with our colleagues in theatre, film and other performing arts to ensure that they get the respect and opportunities they deserve.”  

Irish Equity Webinar

Register Now for the Irish Equity WEBINAR on Thursday 6th August at 3.00 p.m. where you can ask about Equity and talk to us directly about getting professionally organised for better conditions at work.

Registration is now closed.

Irish Equity says support measures for the Arts do not go far enough

Irish Equity has today (Monday, 22nd June) called on the Government to put artists and arts workers first in planning for the recovery.

Irish Equity Organiser, Karan O’Loughlin said: “We have seen movement from the Government over the last week in increasing the funding for the Arts and now we also have the report of the COVID-19 Expert Advisory Group.

“While all of these initiatives are welcome, neither goes far enough to create the structural change and support needed for individual artists and arts workers. Funding the arts is not the same thing as funding artists and these issues should not be confused. Working in the live performance sector in Ireland is precarious, is characterised with insecure freelance work, low pay, long hours and has no measures in respect of industry pensions.

“What we need is a structure to support artists and arts workers in making a decent living while remaining within their chosen profession. This can be done by creating special measures such as a basic income scheme for artists, dedicated social protection measures for employed as well as self- employed freelance workers and taxation measures for professional artists that are fit for purpose. The measures announced to date deliver none of the above. Until the precarious existence of actors and arts workers is recognised the Arts, and in turn the artists and arts workers who bring so much joy, colour and creativity to our lives, will remain the poor relation in the economy.”

Irish Equity welcomes additional €25 million funding for Arts sector

Irish Equity has welcomed the announcement by the Government of vital additional funding for the arts and cultural sector, amounting to a total of €25 million. This will bring funding for the Arts Council in 2020 to €100 million.

SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Karan O’Loughlin said: “This funding will help to stabilise a sector which has been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic but which has also been struggling for years as a result of chronic underfunding.  

“We now await the report of the Arts Council Expert Advisory Group and their recommendations around how these additional funds will be allocated. Continued and increased structural funding for the arts is necessary but the question of how artists are treated from an income, taxation and social protection point of view remains open. 

“Irish Equity has long been calling on the Government to recognise the special circumstances of artists by way of introducing a basic income structure and expanding the current artist exemption scheme beyond its current remit. 

“In this regard, we will continue to be focused on how funding decisions can directly benefit arts practitioners themselves and we are encouraged by the acknowledgement by the Minister for Arts, Josepha Madigan, of the precarious nature of much work by arts practitioners within the sector. It is vitally important that this hard-won additional funding is proportionately used to maximise the opportunities for work and for the creation of better conditions for artists.

“Irish Equity also recognises the dedication and hard work of the various support organisations for artists which have lobbied, researched and documented key findings on pay and conditions within the sector. In particular, the National Campaign for the Arts, Theatre Forum and the Irish Theatre Institute are to be commended for the collaborative and consultative approach they have taken to make the voice of Irish artists heard. Irish Equity looks forward to continuing our very productive partnership with all these representative groups.”

Letter to An Taoiseach on Arts & Cultural Sector Funding