COVID-19 crisis: Unions and trade bodies in UK back call for more financial support for freelancers

Group proposes the creation of a 'Temporary Income Protection Fund'

The UK’s Creative Industries Federation has mobilised 40 trade bodies and unions to call on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide direct financial help for freelancers during the coronavirus crisis.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak MP, the group asks for more support and proposes the creation of a ‘Temporary Income Protection Fund’ of £15bn that will provide all self-employed workers with a monthly income.

Although the government has offered packages of support for employees, people that are self-employed sole traders, which make up the majority of the UK’s production workforce and includes most crew working in televised sport, have so far received very little.

The letter, which is published in full below, was signed by unions from across the creative sector.

The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road

Dear Chancellor,

We are writing as a collective group of organisations to ask that you stand by our highly valuable self-employed workforce, and urgently consider our proposal to help make this a reality.

Your package of support for employers and employees was unprecedented and welcome. However, it creates a worrying inequity between those who now have their income secured and the UK’s five million self-employed workers who are left despondent.

A third of the UK’s creative workforce are self-employed – higher than the national average of 15%. Our recent survey revealed that 60% of creative freelancers predict their income will more than halve in 2020, and over 50% of freelancers who responded to our snap poll have already had 100% of their work cancelled.

We have been working with IPSE – the representative body for the UK’s self-employed community – and over 40 trade and membership bodies and unions from across the creative industries to develop a solution, and would welcome the opportunity to constructively discuss this proposal, and other practical ideas, with you and your team as soon as possible.

We propose that the government creates a Temporary Income Protection Fund of £15bn to provide all self-employed workers with a monthly income matching their average existing earnings over the past three years, capped at average UK earnings after the basic rate of income tax and with a minimum monthly income of the Real Living Wage. There is now precedent for this across Europe.

Our self-employed workforce are a source of incredible creativity, agility, and innovation. It is vital that they receive support equal to employees and collectively explore, given this difficult time, how such talent could be employed and redeployed to help the national effort.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Norbury

Chief Executive
Creative Industries Federation and Creative England

Signed by:

  • Association of British Orchestras
  • Association of Independent Music
  • Association of Photographers
  • Audio UK
  • British Arts Festivals Association
  • British Association of Picture Libraries & Agencies
  • British Beauty Council
  • British Fashion Council
  • Bristol Media
  • Crafts Council
  • Creative United
  • Culture Counts
  • Design Council
  • Directors UK
  • Equity
  • Featured Artists Coalition
  • Federation of Scottish Theatres
  • Guild HE
  • Guild of Media Arts
  • Incorporated Society of Musicians
  • Independent Cinema Office
  • Music Education Council
  • Musicians Union
  • One Dance UK
  • Professional Publishers Association
  • ScreenSkills
  • Society of British Theatre Designers
  • SOLT/UK Theatre
  • Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates
  • UK Music
  • UK Screen Alliance
  • Ukie
  • York UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts

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