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As a freelance artist, there are a few parts to this question. This is because the employment rights of the self-employed are different from those of the employed. But don’t worry, we’re here to help!
At a time like the pandemic, this question is super-prevalent, so here are a few things to consider:
Freelance artists that earn over a certain amount must declare their income to HMRC. This is the case whether you’re working on art full-time or whether it’s a side-gig.
Either way, to be eligible to claim state-provided support, you need to have been paying certain taxes for at least the previous two tax years.
Read more about the tax year here.
As a freelance artist, you will owe both Income Tax and National Insurance. National Insurance entitles you to state benefits such as the Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA), but you can only qualify with certain types of National Insurance:
|National Insurance type||Eligible for JSA?||Paid by|
|Class 1 National Insurance||Y||Employed|
|Class 1A/B National Insurance||N||Employed|
|Class 2 National Insurance||N||Self-employed|
|Class 3 National Insurance||N||Employed|
|Class 4 National Insurance||N||Self-employed|
If you work on art as a side-gig to full-time employment, you can absolutely apply for unemployment benefits if your situation changes. However, you must bear in mind that:
For full-time freelance artists, the rules are a little different. Full-time employees pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions through their salary, making them eligible for the Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA). In comparison, the self-employed workforce pay Class 2 and 4 National Insurance which qualifies you for other state benefits, but not JSA.
You may, however, still be eligible if:
The amount of time that you’ve been self-employed is important. You will need to have paid at least two tax years of (voluntary) Class 1 National Insurance contributions to be eligible to claim.
The tax year runs from 6th April to 5th April.
There are three types of Jobseeker’s Allowance available. Click the links below to understand them in more detail:
You can potentially claim. Here’s what you need to be eligible:
Be aware that the income-based JSA is means tested so unfortunately, support is not guaranteed.
Every two weeks, you can claim the following amounts:
Yes, there is. The UK government has provided support for self-employed workers during the months of the pandemic where many businesses faced slumps.
If you paid your 2018/19 tax bill before 23rd April 2020, you could apply for up to £6,570 in August 2020.
Read more about how the Self-employment income support scheme works here.