Daisy Cooper, the MP for St Albans, is leading a cross-party effort to secure Government economic support for the UK’s world-leading creative industries and the many small businesses and workers being branded on social media as #ForgottenLTD and #forgottenfreelancers.
In a letter to the Chancellor, sent by Daisy Cooper on behalf of the cross-party group of parliamentarians, she warned that government support so far has failed to reach “the very large numbers of directors of small limited companies, freelancers or agency workers that keep our creative industries booming”.
More than 130 MPs and peers from across the political spectrum signed the letter expressing fears that unless further action is taken quickly workers and their families, especially in the creative industries, will be “left with no option than to join the ever-growing queue for universal credit”.
Families will face financial hardship
Daisy, who is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS), said: “The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. Thousands of families will face financial hardship and people are rightly worried about their loved-ones.
“While we saw government step in to stabilise banks in 2008, we’ve not seen the same urgency for the plight of many across the creative industries who are self-employed, freelancers or agency workers.
“Unlike Germany, the Government’s response has been too slow. Ministers must resolve the gaps in their plans and come forward with adequate support or risk decimating Britain’s world leading creative industries, one of the fastest growing parts of the UK economy.”
FULL TEXT OF THE CROSS-PARTY LETTER:
Dear Secretary of State [DCMS] and Chancellor,
RE: Urgent support for our creative industries
Britain is a proud world leader in the creative industries and the sector is one of the fastest growing parts of the UK economy. Our reputation for originality, flair and humour around the world is the envy of many. When we emerge from the worst of coronavirus, the creative industries will be able to help kick-start our economy and help bring our communities back together by helping explain and share what we have been through, but not if it is decimated by a lack of support right now.
The announcement on 26 March 2020, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, gave the UK’s freelance sole traders a much-needed lifeline but it did nothing for the very large numbers of directors of small limited companies, freelancers or agency workers that keep our creative industries booming.
Across the events industry, the music industry, broadcasting, the performing arts, and theatres, employment is usually not with end clients, but with agencies and production companies, who in turn employ hundreds of thousands of freelancers to deliver their projects.
They are not self-employed nor employees. There are those with a mixed income between PAYE and sole trader and those who have recently begun trading will have no access to either scheme. There are those whose income has been suppressed in recent years through serious illness perhaps, or by taking less work and having a family. There are those freelancers, often the most junior in the creative industries, who are usually PAYE workers but who might work from one fixed term contract to the next, often for a just a few weeks at a time and usually with breaks in-between. There are many more who work on casual or zero hour contracts, where an immediate income solution is needed.
And, it is worth remembering who these people are. They are not the rich and famous, they are not household names but they are absolutely integral to the success of the creative industries. They are the Project Directors, Executive Producers, Video Producers and Directors, Production Managers, Production Assistants, Stage set (3D) Designers, CAD Designers, Computer Graphics Designers and Operators, Strategy and Creative Directors, 2D Designers, CGI and Sketch-Up Designers, Logistics Managers and Assistants, Project Managers, Project and Technical Co-ordinators, Technicians, Mechanical Engineers, Designers, Set Builders, Riggers, Costumiers, Wig Makers, Choreographers, Producers, Directors, Sound Designers and Engineers, Lighting Designers, Production Electricians and Engineers, Video Technicians, Dressers, Make-Up Artists, Scriptwriters, Score Writers, Musicians, Showcallers, Stage Managers, Dancers, Actors, Singers, Interns, Apprentices and other support workers.
Unless further action is taken quickly these people and their families will be left with no option than to join the ever-growing queue for Universal Credit.
As MPs, we have received representations and proposed solutions from the Creative Industries Federation, Directors UK, UK Music, BECTU, APA, UK Theatre and Society of Theatre London and others. I urge you to convene a virtual forum to meet with them and other leading groups and businesses in the creative industries as well as representatives from all the main political parties, and agree measures the government can take to support this vitally important sector and a clear timeline for its urgent implementation.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Daisy Cooper MP
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport