Bectu urges government to do more for creative freelancers losing livelihoods due to coronavirus

15 March 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged by to do more to protect the income of creative freelancers who are seeing their livelihoods disappearing due to the impact of coronavirus.

These freelancers, represented by Bectu the union  for creative ambition, a sector of Prospect, continue to fall through the safety net despite measures announced in the Budget.

Mike Clancy general secretary of Prospect has written to the chancellor asking for more to be done to “recognise and alleviate the situation of freelance and self-employed workers”.

Bectu represents over 20,000 people working as freelancers in the creative industries. These include people who are self-employed, causal workers and those who are on zero-hours contracts.

One member who works as a freelance production manager in live music has already lost hundreds of pounds in earnings this month and has seen every single event she is booked for in the coming weeks cancelled.

She is not eligible for benefits due to the nature of her employment and as a result she and her husband, who also works in the sector, are having to apply for jobs as a bus driver and a forklift driver to try and earn extra money. As the response to COVID-19 starts to bite economically it is hard to see such work continuing to be available.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said:

“Freelance workers are in a particularly vulnerable situation during this pandemic. Many of them work in ways that mean that even small disruptions to their working patterns can cause real financial hardship. In addition they may have just faced a tax bill that will have reduced their ability to manage a period without work.

“My concern is not just for workers who have to self-isolate or who fall sick, but for those who face a more protracted period out of work due to the cancellation of productions or the closure of venues.

“Universal Credit is a system which time and time again has been proven to be completely unable to cope with any form of change in demand. Asking these workers to rely on Universal Credit or indeed ESA is simply inadequate.”

Bectu is calling for the government to re-think its approach and find a more resilient safety net for freelance workers which must include housing costs.

More information

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