A new survey by creative industries union, Bectu, has found that one year into the pandemic, 34% of Bectu members are not currently working, either in the creative industries or another industry

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
  • 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 SEISS and CJRS)

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

Commenting on the survey results, Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “This survey demonstrates the devastating impact of the pandemic on thousands of creative industries workers, 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 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 businesses, and negotiating a free EU-wide work permit and carnet exception for our touring professionals.”

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect (Bectu’s parent union) 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.

Jon Creamer