One Year On: survey reveals devastating impact of the pandemic

16 March 2021

A survey of nearly 4,000 workers in the creative industries has revealed the devastating impact of one year of the pandemic on workers in the creative industries.

The survey was completed by 3,957 respondents (96% of whom are Bectu members) between 19 February and 11 March 2021. Those completing the survey work in the film and TV industries, broadcasting, live events, cinemas, and cultural venues (including theatres).

Across all 3,957 respondents, key findings included:

  • 34% are not currently working, either in the creative industries or another industry
  • 30% have been made redundant or laid off at least once since March 2020
  • 36% have received payments from the furlough scheme (CJRS)
  • 20% have received payments from the SEISS
  • 21% of those who needed support have not been able to access the SEISS or CJRS
  • 77% have seen a drop in income (including income from the SEISS and CJRS)

This evening, ITV London broadcast a special report on the impact of the pandemic on London’s theatres and events industries, including figures from our report. Of the 1,026 London-based respondents working in theatres, venues and live events, we found that:

  • 53% are not currently working, either in the creative industries or another industry
  • 20% have been unable to access either of the support schemes
  • 54% have lost over half their income

Bectu has today written to the Culture Secretary, asking for a meeting to discuss these findings and setting out our recommendations for a safe and successful reopening of those cultural venues and events that have been forcibly closed for much of the last year.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:

“The results of Bectu’s survey demonstrate the devastating impact that thousands of creative industries workers continue to suffer, including a staggering 21% who have been excluded from support.

“One year on and the government has done little to address the well-documented gaps in their support schemes. Unions, business groups, mayors and campaigners have repeatedly proposed solutions, but so far these seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

“The one year anniversary is an opportunity for the government to make provisions for a safe and successful reopening for the creative industries. This means supporting workers until the industry fully reopens, providing insurance backing for our theatres, venues and live events, and negotiating a new deal with the EU for our touring professionals.”

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said:

“These results should be a wake-up call for the government about the extent to which workers in the creative industries, many of them self-employed or freelance, have had to weather this pandemic with little or no support.

“This industry is one of the UK’s crown jewels, but government has neglected the workforce who are the bedrock of its success, risking the future of the sector and ultimately our future prosperity.

“We urgently need ministers to take the crisis facing the self-employed seriously. Prospect’s Inquiry into the Future of Self-Employment makes a series of recommendations to give freelancers more security in the long term by extending rights, fixing holes in the safety net, and helping widen access to pensions and other savings.”

Read Bectu’s letter to Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP here.

Read Prospect’s Inquiry into the Future of Self-Employment here.