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Bectu, UK’s Bectu, calls for an “urgent” summit of government to address the freelancer crisis

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Source: Bectu

Philippa Childs

UK creative industries union Bectu has called for the government to summon an urgent industry summit to address a “crisis” among film and TV freelancers.

The creative industry union’s head Philippa Childs wrote an open letter to the government’s culture secretary Lucy Frazer, asking for a summit “bringing together broadcasters, industry stakeholders and government, to discuss the crisis and possible solutions”. Childs added: “The future success of our globally renowned and much-loved film and television industry, as well as the UK’s economy, depends on urgent, coordinated action.” The workforce who are the backbone of the sector must be included in the discussion. Bectu’s January letter noted that “the pandemic exposed the vulnerability of the industry’s workforce when times get tough and work stops.” “Far too many freelancers fell between the gaps of Covid-related government support schemes, and many workers tell us the current situation is even worse.”

Childs also noted Frazer’s recent comments about the UK’s “booming” creative industries and how it did not reflect the current reality. Childs said, “I understand that you were referring to 2022 figures but the harsh reality for thousands of industry workers in the UK is far from 2022’s production boom.”

Of 4,000 workers surveyed, 58% said that they have not seen a recovery of their employment since the SAG/AFTRA strike ended. Another 80% expressed concern about their financial stability over the next six-month period, while 37% stated that they planned to leave the industry in the next five years. This is up from 24% back in September. In the east midlands where the figure was 18% and in the north east, it was 21%, the number of people in employment dropped even more. 75% of respondents reported having mental health issues.

The news comes amidst the ongoing film and high-end TV inquiry by the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee.

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