Equity briefs House of Lords ahead of crucial debate on the creative industry

On 04 November, members of Parliament in the House of Lords debated the impact of government policy and spending on the creative sector. With the Chancellor’s budget last week falling short of Equity’s demands, this was a vital opportunity to influence this crucial debate and ensure parliamentarians hold the government to account.

Equity briefed the Peers taking part. We highlighted the enormous value of the creative industry to the economy and to our social infrastructure. We called on the government to adopt a range of policies shaped by our members to strengthen the support for our industry. These include:

  • Reforming the welfare system so that it better supports the self-employed. This could be achieved by abolishing the Minimum Income floor and replacing it with a workable alternative to delivery parity between the employed and self-employed. As a longer-term measure, we are advocating for the introduction a minimum income guarantee.

  • Investing in arts education for all. This could be achieved by delivering the promised Arts Premium Funding, reforming or abolishing the EBacc, increasing the number of creative apprenticeships and stopping the cuts to higher education.

  • Levelling up opportunities in the arts across every region of the UK. This could be achieved by restructuring our centralised Arts Councils into a regional model, placing funding decisions in the hands of artists and audiences, and focusing any increase in arts spending on the production of a broad range of work.

  • Protecting public sector broadcasting and keeping Channel 4 in public ownership.

The debate included a range of powerful interventions from various Peers. Lord Clancarty used our briefing to highlight the precarious funding landscape for the creative industry.

He stated the following: “Among some excellent briefings, I was struck most immediately by the frightening figures that Equity quotes about the long-term funding of the arts in the UK: that public funding for the arts, per head of the population, has dropped by 35% since 2008, and local government funding has dropped by 43% in the same period… In 2019 we ranked second from bottom of all European countries for spend on cultural services as a percentage of GDP, with only Greece below us.” You can watch the video on our social media.

Baroness Featherstone underlined the "inflexibility and complexity" of the benefits system. She stated that Universal Credit is "utterly unsuitable" for creative workers and advocated for Equity’s policy of a guaranteed basic income for creative workers. You can watch the video on our social media.

Lord Cashman outlined the extremely negative impact the reintroduction of the minimum income will have on creative freelancers with variable income. He highlighted our recent survey which found that 50% of respondents were concerned that they could be forced out of the industry as a result. He echoed Equity’s demand on the government to abolish the minimum income floor and replace it with a meaningful alternative to better support creative freelancers. You can watch the video on our social media.

Briefing parliamentarians ahead of key debates in just one area of Equity’s lobbying and campaigning work. We ask Parliamentary questions, respond to consultations, and host a number of Parliamentary events each year. We also meet with government ministers, civil servants, mayors and other decision-makers in local governments and national governments in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. 

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