Open letter to the Chancellor

Equity General Secretary Christine Payne has written to Chancellor to ask for protection for Equity members and the creative industries, please see below:

Dear Chancellor,

COVID 19 & Protection for Equity members and the creative industries

You will be aware since your announcement yesterday there is considerable anger and distress being expressed by the UK’s 5 million freelance and self-employed workers.

And you will also know, just a few days ago theatres and many other live entertainment venues went dark and film and TV productions across the country shut down. We don’t know for how long these and many other workplaces will be closed or how many will re-open.  Equity’s position is as follows:

We believe that there are a number of performers and stage management currently engaged on conventional Equity contracts across the live and recorded media sectors which should be included in the job retention scheme. Many of these workers were effectively furloughed in the last few days and share many of the characteristics of those who are included in the 80% salary scheme but we need clarity on this.

And more generally:

  • We believe no one should be left behind just because their employment is insecure
  • Creatives, freelancers and self-employed workers deserve the same support and respect as employees in secure jobs
  • £94 per week is not enough to live on
  • The creative industries alone are worth £117bn to the economy & so much of this is because of our talented world leading workforce
  • If we want the new economy to survive and thrive we need an income guarantee for the people who work hard in them
  • A more appropriate level of support for our members should be based on the London living wage

The Government needs to talk to unions representing creative and freelance workers now in order to safeguard creative skills and provide a real safety net for all workers. I would ask that conversations be arranged urgently to examine further options including an income guarantee.

With best wishes,
Christine Payne
Equity General Secretary