Treasury Committee call for evidence on Government’s Coronavirus finance package

By NUBSLI | Published on 23 March 2020

Last updated on October 21st, 2021 at 7:17 pm

Related: Coronavirus Covid-19

The Treasury Committee has issued a call for evidence on the Government’s coronavirus financial package.

The Committee is seeking a range of views from stakeholders on whether the Government’s response to the coronavirus is sufficient, and to suggest areas where more support is needed.

On behalf of our members, the NUBSLI committee have submitted the following. You can also read the response to our submission at the end.

We are the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters and Translators (NUBSLI), and represent the Sign Language interpreting profession across the UK.

Most interpreters work on a self-employed basis and pay tax and national insurance. In the majority of cases, the current crisis has seen their income plummet to zero.

The government measures to pay 80% of salary for employed workers is welcome and reassuring for those in such positions. However, the situation for self-employed freelancers is drastically different, unfairly discriminatory and cannot be ignored.

The measures offered to the self employed thus far are:

· Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees, e.g., £94.25 per week

· Deferring of self-assessment tax payments on account until 2021

The figure of £94.25 represents a woefully low percentage of interpreters’ usual earnings and it is unacceptably inequitable when compared with the measures for employees. The result will be a devastating impact on the lives of these people and their families as they find themselves no longer able to pay their day-to-day living expenses including, rent, mortgages, utility and food bills. In addition, they will still have to cover costs associated with their profession and self-employment; registration fees, insurance and mobile phones in order to ensure they can work again once the crisis comes to an end.

Many Sign Language Interpreters provide services in all areas of health care, social care, education and legal and judicial settings but they are not able to work now due to the mass cancellation of appointments and closing of public buildings. Furthermore, those interpreters who continue to work alongside professionals that are classed as ‘key workers’ in the current crisis should, where necessary, also be deemed to be ‘key workers’ and should be permitted access to the services that have been made available to said workers.

In the longer term the lack of support to this group of workers could impact the future of the profession as a whole which would in turn have implications for the statutory obligations public and private service providers have for ensuring their services are accessible to the Deaf BSL using community.

We demand on behalf of our profession and those we work with that the government introduce measures to provide parity to self-employed people and guarantee 80% of their income to these vital workers.

Yours faithfully,

The NUBSLI Committee

Treasury Committee response

Thank you for your submission to the Economic impact of the coronavirus inquiry.

The Treasury Committee have had an unprecedented response, receiving over 14,000 emails – the majority on 23 March.

The Treasury Committee has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, addressing a number of points that were raised in the submissions. This letter has been published on our website  [this letter has since been removed from their website].

We will publish the response we receive from the Chancellor, and other material related to this inquiry. Should you wish to follow the progress of the Committee’s work you can visit the Committee’s website  or follow the Committee on Twitter.

The usual procedure for submissions accepted as evidence is that it will be published in full on the Treasury Committee website. This will include your name and any personal details of yourself or others, if you have included those in the text of your submission.

Once the Committee have formally agreed to publish your evidence, it will be available permanently for anyone to view online, even after the inquiry has closed and the report has been published. Once evidence is published, it cannot be altered or removed.

If you have concerns about your evidence being published in this way, and you have not already brought this to our attention when submitting, then please contact the Committee staff team as soon as possible. The Committee will respect requests for confidentiality and may consider requests to publishing evidence anonymously (your name and details which may identify you and others are removed).

The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.