SOME staff members at a music tutoring service in Newport have said they could be left with no form of income after assurances they would be paid through lockdown were withdrawn.

Staff working for Gwent Music, which is funded by local authorities in the region, were told on Monday, March 23 – two days after it was announced that schools would be closing – that they need not worry about losing their income and would continue to be paid as long as they continued to run classes online or in community hubs.

But now they have been told they will have to apply for income through the government's Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

Hannah Jeans-Wells, who has worked at Gwent Music for 18 years, said, when she was promised she would continue to be paid, she shelled out almost £1,000 on an iPad so she was able to teach via the internet, and already had 20 students sign up for online classes.

But she was concerned when she received an email from Newport City Council on Wednesday, April 8, saying: “This decision was based on the lack of a national announcement about financial help for self-employed individuals. However, at the end of March the government addressed this by introducing the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

“Self-employed tutors who deliver lessons for Gwent Music will now need to seek remuneration.”

Mrs Jeans-Wells worked for Gwent Music as a contracted member of staff until last year, and she therefore hasn’t been self-employed long enough to qualify for financial support. She is also not eligible for Universal Credit.

“Some of us will have zero income apart from anything paid from private pupils,” she said.

“More than 1,000 students signed up to receive online tuition under Gwent Music due to the tireless efforts of staff.

“In the council’s latest communication they have directed that all work is to cease under Gwent Music and we can instead teach privately.

“This will leave many children unable to access classes at a time when they will need some normality.

“Receiving the information that the council’s offer was being rescinded moments before the Easter bank holiday meant many of us were unable to access advice.

“Communication from the council says they acted 'without delay', but it was two weeks after the government announced the scheme.

“The nature of their communication is without any emotion for the fact they are leaving staff and their families destitute.”

A council statement said: “When schools closed and re-purposed as childcare hubs, the council agreed to provide funding for self-employed Gwent Music tutors.

“At the end of March the government addressed this by introducing the self-employment income support scheme.

“It also became clear that councils would not be able to claim back any additional costs from government, as Gwent Music is a non-essential service.

“The directors of education across the region have also confirmed their expectation that self-employed tutors who deliver lessons for Gwent Music should access their funding through this scheme.”