Dear government…

An email just sent to Cerys Mcdonald, director of CV-19 policy co-ordination:

Dear Cerys,

I apologise for bothering you at such a busy time but I am writing about the conflicting interpretations being offered by HMRC about the CJRS, where it relates to PAYE freelancers.

I would be grateful if you could look at these two responses, both given by HMRC Customer Services in the last hour. They are two entirely contradictory answers to the same question which was put to them about rehiring and then furloughing workers whose contracts have come to an end:

These two responses match a vast number of others given by HMRC over the past four days and have resulted in chaos being inflicted on the lives of freelancers in the TV industry by the rewriting of the CJRS. It was this kind of thing which has caused a large number of TV production companies to feel they had to withdraw the offers they had made to furlough their workers, resulting in many people suddenly discovering they no longer had the means to pay their bills over the next few months.

It clearly is not the fault of the benighted HMRC representatives in Customer Services when they do this – not when the official guidelines have been written with such a lack of clarity. Please, please then can someone in authority confirm, as soon as possible, that what Rishi Sunak said in his Twitter live feed on April 3rd does still apply – that “if you were on payroll on the 28th February and then left – for whatever reason – the company can indeed take you back and then furlough you”.

The longer this confusion is allowed to continue, the less chance there is that companies in our industry will take the risk of doing what this scheme clearly set out to achieve: to be a lifeline for workers in these incredibly difficult times.

Would it be possible to address this? I would be grateful if you could let me know.

(And when you do know, y’know, do something about it please).

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