Equity responds to reports of £400m arts funding for workplaces in Budget

Reports have emerged overnight that the government is set to announce £408 million of funding for theatres, museums and galleries in England in Wednesday's Budget – with no mention of financial help for the creative workforce.

This is a significant blow for our members, many of whom have been excluded from government schemes for the past year and are struggling to make ends meet.

Equity has been tirelessly campaigning for the upcoming Budget to contain expanded support for the creative and freelance workers, calling for a targeted support package for the arts and creative workforce and recently giving evidence to the Gaps in Support All-Party Parliamentary Group and signing an open letter to the Chancellor with ExcludedUK.

Equity General Secretary Paul W Fleming said: “The Chancellor could have a starring role in creative industry recovery, but his announcement in the dead of night feels decidedly end of the pier.

"More money into a fund so ill-suited to our sector that the first round went unspent. The new support fund for pubs is inadequate to support these grassroots venues. Nothing yet for our workforce who stopped earlier than any other – 40% of whom have been excluded from furlough or SEISS since March 2020.

"What we know so far suggests more for some bosses, some buildings – but not the artists, entertainers and communities that the creative industries are really about.

"We hope that this morning’s announcement was a sideshow, a warmup, and not the main event.”

Wednesday's budget presents an opportunity for the Treasury to right some of the wrongs. Equity is calling on the Government to immediately:

  • Widen the support available via the SEISS grant to include new entrants with a 2019/20 tax return, those operating through PSCs and other excluded groups.
  • Continue to allow SEISS grants based on at least 80% of average profits when the fourth grant details are published tomorrow.
  • Continue the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor for Universal Credit beyond the end of April 2021
  • Continue the £20 uplift in universal credit standard allowances beyond April 2021.

[Image description: Theatres at night with lights on, Shaftesbury Avenue, West End, London]