More than 70% of freelance workers in the creative industries surveyed by union BECTU are worried they will not be able to pay their bills because of the work they have lost due to coronavirus.
The entertainment union ran an emergency survey that closed on March 16, before widespread social distancing was recommended by the government to stop the spread of the virus. It was answered by 5,600 workers.
Almost half (46%) of survey respondents said they have already lost money as a result of the virus’ impact, with 457 people reporting losses of more than £5,000.
Respondents said that estimates for future loss of earnings were difficult because of the uncertainty about the length of potential disruption. However, 437 people said they could lose £20,000 to £40,000, while 783 said they may lose up to £20,000.
As a result of the survey, BECTU is calling on the government to “take immediate action to create a meaningful safety net for those who have lost all their work and income because of coronavirus”.
Measures the union would like to see implemented include:
Head of BECTU Philippa Childs said: “We can’t emphasise enough how urgently we need the government to act. This survey started just after the Budget announcement. We have since had another update from the chancellor but still nothing for freelancers, the self-employed and those on zero-hours contracts.
“These people have literally seen their income stream disappear in the space of a few days. They pay their taxes without fail, contribute to a thriving sector of the economy and don’t have the structure of an employer.
“The government can’t ignore them any longer. Just like those who are employed and receive salaries, freelancers also have families to feed and must pay the bills to keep a roof over their heads.
“The government must make sure any further protections put in place cover the entire economy’s workforce.”