Freelances left out in cold in spending review

Self-employed freelance workers, the backbone of the creative industries, have been ignored in the Spending Review announced today by the Chancellor.

Throughout the Covid crisis freelancers have been unable to claim either Job Retention or Self Employed Income Support, and they represent 47%, around 3m, of the creative workforce in the UK.

The annual Spending Review is not a Budget in which money is raised and allocated but an expression of intent by the Treasury. This review is of the bleakest in living memory because of the economic catastrophe created by the pandemic, and as the single most dynamic sector in recent years the creative industries are seen as key to recovery. The freelance element of the sector is, said the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) today, fundamental to that recovery, “and it is vital that government does more to understand – and support – this vital part of our workforce” said CEO Caroline Norbury.

The CIF has therefore called for a “freelance commissioner?” and a “future workforce commission”. In a letter sent to the Chancellor sent jointly with the Federation of Small Businesses, The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed and Prospect, the trade union that represents freelancers, Norbury makes the recommendation “so that we can really get under the skin of how we build more resilience into this workforce and ensure no worker falls through the gaps”.

It goes on: “With this commission and commissioner we can collectively ensure that the UK champions innovation and entrepreneurialism as we emerge from the pandemic and re- establish ourselves on the world stage”.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) responded to today’s announcements by concluding the government had failed to recognise the economic value of culture in b ringing spenders into city centres.

“The government should support the performance ecosystem in order to unlock public spending, create jobs and lift the national mood” said the ISM’s CEO Debora Annetts. “We need a clear roadmap now for the return of live performance in 2021. This is essential so that the industry has enough time to prepare and implement the necessary measures to resume safely next year.”

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