Creative industries freelancers: write to your MP NOW

23 March 2020

We are calling on all creative freelancers to write to their MP to urgently ask for additional financial support from the government towards their income during the coronavirus pandemic.

The call comes after many freelancers were left aghast by the government’s announcement on Friday (20 March) that it would pay up to 80% of employees’ salaries if they were kept on by their employer. However, many sole traders, people working from contract to contract and those operating as limited companies feel completely excluded by the measures.

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Current government advice is for freelancers and the self-employed, including those on zero-hours contracts, to sign up to Universal Credit which equates to around £94 a week compared to up to £2500 per month being offered to those who are employed.

Over 100 freelancers contacted Bectu over the weekend, following on from a single call out on Twitter, outlining their concerns.

They include concerns about: how they will cover basic costs such as utility bills and food, renters with children who say that their landlord relies on their rent as income and don’t know if they will be able to get a rent holiday. People are also deeply concerned about how long this will go on for and whether the creative industries will recover and for those who are new entrants whether their career is already over. For those who are established in these professions they are concerned about whether they will return to work and their financial position in the future.

Bectu’s parent union Prospect wrote to the chancellor on 10 March outlining concerns of our freelance membership. Bectu wrote again to the chancellor on 19 March about the film and TV industry and Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, about the arts industry.

A survey of creative freelancers which ended on 16 March before widespread restrictive measures were put in place found that 71% of freelancers were already concerned about paying the bills. Nearly 3,000 (46%) respondents had already lost money as a result of the virus. From 1,500 respondents who came back to us in detail: 456 reported already losing over £5,000, 457 reported losing £2,000-£5,000, 591 said they had lost up to £2000.

Many reported that estimates for future loss of earnings were difficult because of the uncertainty about the length of potential disruption. However, 131 people said they were facing losing over £40,000, 437 said they could lose £20,000-40,000 and 783 people said they may lose up to £20,000.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:

“Bectu urges anyone who is worried about their financial prospects to contact their MP immediately and outline why the current government financial package is not good enough.

“Bectu will be making a submission to the treasury select committee about why freelancers are falling through the net. We will also be working with other organisations with similar concerns to continue pushing for appropriate financial protection during these unprecedented times.”

Note: The Creative Industries Federation wrote to the chancellor again on 22 March which Bectu signed.

Tell your MP: freelancers need support

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Email your MP now