Empowering the Freelance Economy

Covid-hit freelance creatives in Wales must act fast to apply for £2500 grant and join ‘Freelancer Pledge’

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The second phase of a fund to support creative freelancers living and working in Wales affected by Covid-19 was launched this week. The Freelance Informer outlines everything you need to know to apply.

Individuals can apply for a £2,500 grant and are asked to check their eligibility before the application process opens by visiting the Eligibility Checker for the Cultural Recovery Fund.

The fund is open to freelancers in the sub sectors of arts, creative industries, arts and heritage events, culture and heritage, whose work has direct creative and cultural outcomes.

We have been allocated a total of around £280,000 from the Welsh Government to provide freelancers with immediate cash flow support in Bridgend county borough and help them survive the economic consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak.

This funding is specifically for creative and cultural subsectors, and roles that have been forced to cease work and/or face difficultly restarting because of the impact of Covid-19 restrictions. It is there to support freelancers in the period from April 2020 – March 2021.

The first phase of the fund opened at the start of October and it took just three days to reach our allocation of applications. Due to applications being dealt with on a first come, first served basis, we would urge people not to delay in submitting the application if they are eligible – otherwise it may lead to applications not being appraised after they have been submitted if the fund is fully committed.

Bridgend County Borough Council leader Huw David

The Welsh Government first launched its £7m fund on October 5 to help creative and cultural industries particularly hard hit during the pandemic with projects having had to be cancelled or postponed.

Announcing the new fund at the time, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “The freelance sector is such an important part of the Welsh economy – with a significant number of freelancers working in the cultural and creative sectors.

“I’m delighted that we’re able to provide support – to sustain our freelancers during this difficult period and acknowledge the contribution made by these individuals to the economy, our communities and the cultural and creative sectors in Wales.”

The grant seeks to complement other Covid-19 response measures to support organisations and businesses in Wales as part of the Cultural Recovery Fund.

Freelancer Fund Guidance Notes

This is a grant to provide financial assistance for freelancers in the cultural sectors that are facing financial challenges as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Purpose of the grant

The purpose of the grant is to support freelancers in the cultural sectors facing financial challenges in the period from April 2020 – March 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Business Wales

Business Wales provides support for existing businesses and individuals considering starting a business or freelancing, or setting up as a sole trader.

The service can help you understand your needs and provide tailored support that include access to online tools, workshops and webinars on a range of business topics, advisers and mentors.

Advisers can help you develop an action plan, provide business and financial advice and help you access other support or wider networks that you might benefit from.

Find out more about Business Wales

Who can apply

Support is available to assist freelancer professionals whose work has direct creative/cultural outcomes, who work in the four key sub sectors:

  • The Arts;
  • Creative Industries;
  • Arts and Heritage Events;
  • Culture and Heritage.

Visit the Freelancer Fund eligibility checker 

You will also be eligible if you’re employed part-time and also have a freelance professional creative practice, however, please note this grant is targeted at freelancers in most need of support due to loss of earnings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you have received previous support from either the Government Job Retention Scheme and Self-employment Income Support Scheme and are experiencing financial challenges you are still eligible for this fund.

You will not be eligible:

  • If you are a freelancer working in the sport sector;
  • You have recently received funding from the Start-Up Grant launched in June 2020 to help new businesses survive the economic consequences of coronavirus (Covid-19).

This funding is specifically for creative/cultural subsectors and roles that have been forced to cease work and/or face difficultly restarting because of the impact of Covid restrictions.

Those in roles that have been able to continue at previous or near previous levels of activity (e.g. architects, graphic designers, games designers etc.) with or without support should not apply.

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Freelancers will need to provide:

Proof of identification (one of the following):

  1. Current UK or EEA photocard driving licence;
  2. Current signed passport;

iii. Original Birth certificate;

  1. Other (please specify).

Proof of address (one of the following):

  1. Utility bill;
  2. Bank statement;

iii. Mobile phone statement.

Proof of some work between April 2019 – July 2020 and / or proof of work cancelled between April 2020 – March 2021. 

Please note proof of work will not be required for all of the above timeframe. If you are unable to provide the relevant documentation due to maternity/parental or adoption leave please let us know.

Examples of how this can be provided include:

  • Contract / cancelled contracts;
  • Invoices;
  • Reference from employer / confirmation of cancelled work from employer;
  • Letter of Engagement / cancelling engagement;
  • Arts Council of Wales grant confirmation;
  • Other (you will need to specify).

Other Information which must be provided:

  • a recent copy of your individual bank statement will need to be provided (this is needed to corroborate bank details, and will not be used as part of the appraisal of your application);
  • unique Tax Reference (UTR) Number (if available) or if you work under PAYE deducted contracts, other evidence such as p60 or proof of employment on short term contracts;
  • A CV (or a detailed LinkedIn account).

How much you can apply for

A grant of £2,500 is available per individual, to support with immediate cash flow to help through the disrupted period.

All applications will be considered on an individual basis and payment of the grant is at the absolute discretion of the Local Authority within the criteria set out in this guidance.

Freelancer pledge – are you signed up?

Freelancers are often active participants in their community, making a positive contribution to a community’s social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being.

The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies in Wales to enable a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language as well as think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other.

“There is an opportunity now for creative freelancers and public bodies to forge a partnership to achieve this. By encouraging you to sign up to the Freelancer’s Pledge we hope you can bring your skills to assist us to bring creativity and imagination to all areas of public life,” stated Bridgend County Borough Council.

This might be co-creating solutions with the community, contributing to local development plans and development or bringing new approaches to capital projects. This could be in areas such as culture through to health or sustainable development and built environment.

You may already have experience in working in the public realm with partners, be a socially engaged artist, a PTA member or trustee or just an active doer in your community who uses your lived experience to make positive change.

“If you are interested in being a part of this, please opt into the Freelancer Pledge. We’ll use your details to inform and involve you in developments. We value the skills and experience of freelancers. We would expect any work undertaken by freelancers as a result of the Freelancer Pledge to be paid work,” said the council.

How to apply

Individuals can apply for the Freelance Fund grant on the website.

You will need to complete all the requested fields together with the required evidence documents. Scanned documents and photos are acceptable forms of evidence for this purpose.

If you would like to complete this form in a different format please call the Business Wales helpline on 03000 6 03000.

The Local Authority has absolute discretion on the duration and terms of the fund.

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