Bectu lays out key priorities for the creative industries in letter to the new Culture Secretary

10 July 2024

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs has written to the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lisa Nandy MP, congratulating her on Labour’s victory at the General Election and her subsequent appointment as the new Culture Secretary.

The letter outlines Bectu’s priorities for the next year, and areas where we hope and expect to work with the new government to ensure it delivers for the UK’s creative workforce and on Labour’s Plan for the Arts, Culture and Creative Industries.

Transforming our creative industries and the future of self-employment

Despite being an economic powerhouse, the creative industries and their workforce continue to face urgent challenges. Key issues such as unsustainable working hours, the ‘feast or famine’ nature of freelance employment, bullying and harassment and poor levels of diversity continue to affect Bectu members.

As well as investing in the creative industries, the new Government must secure a new deal for the self-employed and freelancers, who make up 28% of the creative workforce and contributed £331 billion to the UK economy in 2023.

Currently, self-employed workers lack many essential employee protections like sick pay and parental rights, and last year’s US industrial action highlighted that the self-employed and freelancers are more vulnerable to the loss of work altogether. A Bectu survey from February 2024 found that 68% of film and TV workers were not currently working.

Among other priorities, Bectu is calling for the new government and Culture Secretary to:

  • Work with the industry to demand a greater focus on equality and diversity, to ensure that careers in the creative industries are open to all, whatever their background and wherever they live across the UK.
  • Champion the work of the recently established Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority (CIISA) and encourage industry buy-in to this initiative, to ensure a meaningful strategy to tackle bullying and harassment.
  • Appoint a freelance commissioner to act as a voice for freelancers within government
  • Modernise protections and entitlements for the self-employed and grant access to rights afforded to employees, as part of a broader reform package on the legislative and institutional landscape on workers’ rights.
  • Ensure adequate and sustained funding for the BBC so that it can continue as an incubator of British skills and talent.

Bectu is ready to engage with the new government and industry to address these, and other, pressing issues and secure meaningful and long-lasting change for the creative and self-employed workforce.

Supporting our world-class heritage workforce

Bectu’s parent union Prospect also represents over 10,000 members across the heritage sector. We have called for an urgent funding review of the sector, which has seen huge losses of skilled and experienced experts due to real terms pay cuts and a lack of pay progression.

Prospect has also written to the new Prime Minister, Keir Starmer MP, and is also writing to other Secretaries of State and Ministers with the aim of building partnerships across government to create a positive difference for our members.