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Major study finds that half of UK film and television workers are struggling financially

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Nearly half of all film and TV workers have said that they are finding it difficult to manage financially, according to a major Film and TV Charity study.

More than 2,000 people took part in the FTVC Money Matters financial survey, which also found that one in four respondents were “very pessimistic” about their future in the TV and film industry.

According to the survey, which was conducted in October and November last year, when asked ‘how well are you managing financially?’ less than one in four (24%) of all film and TV workers surveyed were either ‘living comfortably’ or ‘doing all right’.

In contrast, almost half (45%) said they were finding it either very or quite difficult to manage financially, with freelancers one of the sub-groups struggling most. Other sub-groups acutely affected include those with a disability or long-term health condition, carers with adult dependents and those working in film.

The results are published in a new report, Money Matters: Examining the Financial Circumstances of the Film, TV, and Cinema Industry Workforce, which FTVC chief exec Marcus Ryder called “a sobering read”.

“The high proportion of film and TV workers finding it difficult to manage financially is concerning and seemingly higher than the general UK population,” the report concluded.

The survey also found the proportion finding it difficult to manage financially was higher among older workers compared to younger ones. While the figure stood at 39% among those aged 16-to-24, it went up to 53% among those aged 55 and above.

Meanwhile the proportion of respondents reporting difficulty in managing financially was higher among men (50%) than among women (43%).

Many of the film and TV workers surveyed had very little money set aside. 42% had less than PS1,000 in savings, including a quarter (27%) who had no cash savings whatsoever.

The report points to widespread struggles in relation to mortgage and rents, with a quarter (25%) of all film and TV workers surveyed having “very much struggled” to meet these over the past six months.

Pessimistic about the future

Looking ahead, fewer than one in 10 (7%) of the film and TV workers surveyed were optimistic about their financial future. On the flip side, nearly three-quarters (71%) were pessimistic about their financial future, while a quarter said they were “very pessimistic”.

Ryder said: “The Money Matters report is a sobering read and it’s critical that the survey results it highlights form the basis for urgent discussion about the welfare of the film and TV workforce, retention of talent, and the future health of the industry as a whole.

“Currently, behind the scenes workers are asked to navigate an industry prone to boom and bust cycles, to deal with structural shifts and respond and pivot to meet the needs of changing business models. They are often asked to do this without the safety nets that other workers enjoy, despite the fact that they are at the core of a multi-billion-pound pillar of UK economy. At the same time, we ponder why people are leaving the workforce and why we struggle to attract and retain talent from marginalised or under-represented groups.”

Ryder added that in light of the findings, the FTVC is advocating for better mental health, financial wellbeing, and for equity and inclusion, but they all required tackling together rather than in isolation.

“It’s inherent that we have the difficult conversations, address the business models and identify the policies needed so that we can collectively make a real difference to a workforce currently struggling to find any optimism in its financial future,” he said.

This story first appeared on Screen’s sister site Broadcast.

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