A total of 13,000 people including the actors Richard E. Grant and Peter Capaldi have signed a letter demanding the UK government provides an income guarantee for creative freelancer workers impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
There have been growing calls this week for freelancers to receive similar support to that which the government has put in place for employed workers, including saying it will cover 80% of wages while businesses remain disrupted, to stop employers needing to cull staff.
Today’s petition comes from UK trade union Equity. It calls for creative workers to receive “an income guarantee”. Other names to have signed include Mel Giedroyc, Simon Russell Beale, David Tennant, Gemma Atkinson, Cush Jumbo, Alan Cumming and Alison Steadman.
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“I know the deep danger the UK’s government are putting the self-employed in if they do not give them the same financial support they are giving the employed,” said Equity President Maureen Beattie.
“Theatres and live entertainment venues have gone dark and film and TV productions across the country have shut down. We don’t know for how long these and many other workplaces will be closed or how many will ever re-open again,” added Equity General Secretary Christine Payne.
“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,” he added.
In the House of Commons today, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak responded to a question about what the government will do to help freelance workers during the crisis.
“I will be making further announcements about progress on these measures. It’s something we’ve been looking at in intense detail in the Treasury. We are in dialogue with all the key stakeholders and groups, including calls I’m having today with several of these bodies,” said Sunak.
“There are genuine practical and principal reasons why it is incredibly complicated to design an analogous scheme to the one that we have for employed workers, but they can rest assured that we understand the situation that many self-employed people face at the moment as a result of what’s happening, and are determined to find a way to support them. We need to be confident that can be done in a way that is deliverable, and is fair to the vast majority of the British workforce.”
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