Film and TV freelancers will lose an average £33k as a result of the coronavirus if government does not extend the 80% salary help offered to those on permanent contracts.

The figure comes from a new survey by media union Bectu.

Over 3000 freelancers covering a range of roles including film crew and post-production workers responded in 24 hours to a Bectu call out for responses.

Freelancers working in film and TV reported they would normally expect to earn an average of £38,500 a year after tax and deductions.

When respondents were also asked how much they would expect to earn in combined wages and kit rental after tax and deductions, the figure rose to an average of £46,464 with certain roles quoting an expectation of over £20,000 in equipment rental earnings alone.

The survey also found that nearly half of the respondents had bought a car or van specifically to transport equipment and 400 respondents said that the car costs them nearly £600 a month in leasing costs.

Respondents also said in a normal year they would expect to work 232 days, but this year, at best, it would be less than half and as low as 91 days with shooting crew expectations even lower at 67 days.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “These findings show why the current government offer to the self-employed to access £94 a week through the benefits system is not enough to even cover their overheads and ensure they are in a position to financially recover from the effects of coronavirus.

“Many of our members who work as freelancers do a lot more than supply their own labour. They have significant overheads covering vehicles, software licences and insurances. They are also expected to supply thousands of pounds worth of equipment as part of the package that they provide to their engagers.”

Bectu is calling on the government to use the tax data from previous tax returns to build a picture of an average total verifiable income across different streams for each worker who claims. This must be mindful of the different methods in which self-employed workers earn income. The government would then pay grant payments covering 80% of this income (based on an average of the last year or the last 3 years, whichever is higher) with a cap of £3000 per month.

Staff Reporter

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