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The head of the British directors association, Directors UK, has called on the government to consider emergency measures to support freelance and self-employed workers in the film and TV industries, among the creative sectors hardest hit by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
In an open letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Directors UK CEO Andrew Chowns pointed to the fact that a vast proportion of the U.K. creative sector consists of a freelance workforce, adding that almost all his organization’s members were self-employed freelancers. He also said that, with productions being shut down daily and “almost all non-news production activity in film and TV” likely to have ceased in the coming days, directors and their crews were facing long periods of time without work, most unable to access many of the benefits and support available to employed workers.
In response, Chowns urged authorities to introduce a form of “proportional income support,” one which would guarantee an income to this workforce that is proportional to their recent average income. Norway recently put into place such a measure, with all self-employed people being told that they would receive 80 percent of their income with a ceiling of $57,000, based on their last three years’ worth of income.
“We think this would mean that other reliefs and benefit adjustments would not be necessary and that a form of basic economic stability could be maintained while the outbreak is dealt with,” said Chowns, who also called for the government to give freelancers and the self-employed the same level of access to sickness pay and protection as available to all other citizens.
The letter came less than a day after a new survey of some 5,600 people by the creative industry union Bectu found almost half of the freelance respondents had already lost money as a result of the coronavirus pandemic
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