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MU and Ivors Academy calls for more support for music makers still shielding

By | Published on Monday 13 September 2021


The Musicians’ Union and the Ivors Academy have called for more support for British music makers who are still shielding, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A new study published by the two organisations shows that 70% of musicians, songwriters and composers who are still in long-term isolation are facing hardship as a result.

While the vaccine roll out and a somewhat cavalier attitude on the part of the government has allowed many in the UK to return to something approaching normal life, a portion of the population remains effectively in lockdown. This is due to concerns about the effect a COVID-19 infection would have on their own existing health conditions or those of someone they live with.

In a survey of 340 shielding music makers, 70% said that they are facing hardship due to the continued shielding, having lost at least half of their normal income over the last twelve months. 50% of those musicians said that they had lost between 75% and 100% of normal earnings. Meanwhile, 60% of respondents said that they have received no financial support, mostly due to being ineligible for the various government schemes.

More than 80% of those surveyed said that they do not believe that the government has a clear plan for how to support people who are long-term shielding. This despite the fact that 40% say that they will have to continue shielding even after the vaccine roll out is complete and all remaining pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

Musicians’ Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge says in a statement: “The pandemic has been an extremely tough time for people who have needed to shield. We know that musicians, music creators and audiences are looking forward to the music industry opening fully and are relieved to return to some sort of normality. But there are still many musicians and music creators who will not be able to return to work because of their legitimate fears about their risk from COVID-19”.

“These musicians and music creators are concerned about their futures and how they will be able to cope financially”, he goes on. “Musicians and music creators with a continued need to shield are being left behind, many with no support. The government must provide clearer, accessible guidance, and ensure that this group of workers can access financial support to stay safe and not be forced to choose between going to work and their health”.

Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies adds: “For many, the worst of the pandemic is hopefully coming to an end. But for those that must keep shielding this is not case and we are drawing attention to their plight – they mustn’t be forgotten or left behind”.

“Our survey tells the story of many music makers who have lost the majority or all of their income and will be unable to repair this financial damage for some time to come”, he continues. “While many return to some sense of normality, others are still locked down and shut out of the human interactions and economic recovery that post-lockdown brings. We call on the government and music industry to provide ongoing support to music creators that need to continue shielding”.

The organisations are calling for the UK government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the furlough scheme for employees to be extended for people still shielding, and to make them automatically eligible. They also recommend that the government should provide guidance for employers on supporting this group of people.