UK’s Bectu Calls For Urgent Summit With Gov’t Over Freelancer Crisis & Criticizes Culture Secretary For Saying Creative Industries Are “Booming”

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“Urgent and joined up action” has been demanded from the UK government by broadcasting union Bectu, which has called for an industry-wide summit and criticized the culture secretary for saying the creative industries are “booming.”

Philippa Childs has written a letter to Lucy Frazer this morning saying the “current picture for the UK screen industries is deeply concerning.”

She called for the summit with haste, which she said should bring together “broadcasters, industry stakeholders and government to discuss the crisis and possible solutions.”

“The future of our much loved and globally revered film and TV industry, and one of the UK’s economic heavyweights, depends on urgent and joined up action,” said Childs. “The workforce, who underpin the sector’s success, must have a seat at the table.”

She was writing on behalf of the thousands of UK freelancers. A Bectu survey last week found that 68% of UK film and TV freelancers are not working, only a slight drop from the 73% from the previous survey, which came amidst the U.S. labor strikes. Of more concern, the number saying they want to leave the industry within five years rose to 37%.

“The pandemic exposed for the whole industry the vulnerability of the workforce when times become tough, and work dries up,” said Childs. “Far too many freelancers fell between the gaps of Covid-related government support schemes, and many workers tell us the current is even worse.”

Childs criticized Frazer for recent remarks about how the “creative industries are booming.”

“Whilst I appreciate that you were referencing 2022 figures, the harsh reality for tens of thousands of industry workers is far from the production boom of 2022,” she added.

The news comes after UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt was “urged” to intervene and help the struggling indie film sector by the head of the current inquiry into British Film & High-end TV.

The UK’s freelancer crisis feels at an all-time-low, due to a combination of a hangover from the strikes, the ad recession and buyers opting for a ‘fewer bigger better’ approach.

Last week, Childs urged an “open and honest” conversation from broadcasters about the crisis.

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