Petition Create income replacement scheme for crew affected by writers and actors strikes
We want the Government to do more to support UK TV and Film Crew who are unable to work due to strikes by actors and writers. The UK freelance crew who work on these projects need financial support and reassurance from the Government that they will not abandon the crew during this crisis.
The UK Film and TV industry contributes billions to the economy, and a large proportion of production is based on work from US studios. Current US strikes mean that work has disappeared for many UK freelance crew overnight.
There has been no bespoke support for the crew during the strikes. Many are only just recovering financially after Covid and now find themselves again without work. Many are suffering financially and mentally and are having to find work elsewhere. This could have a long-term effect on the entire industry
This response was given on 13 September 2023
The government understands that US industrial action is impacting UK crew. Whilst we have no plans to introduce an income replacement scheme, help is available through HMRC’s Time to Pay scheme.
The government is committed to the continued success of the Film and High End TV (HETV) industry, and of the UK’s creative industries more widely. As set out in our Creative Industries Sector Vision, our ambition by 2030 - underpinned by £310 million in targeted government spending - is to grow the creative industries in creative clusters by an extra £50 billion; to create one million extra jobs though a creative careers promise that builds a pipeline of talent into the sector; and to maximise the ability of the creative industries to enrich our lives. The Sector Vision is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/creative-industries-sector-vision.
The UK is one of the most attractive destinations in the world for the production of Film and HETV, with a record £6.27 billion generated through production spend in the UK in 2022, of which £5.37 billion - or 86% - came from inward investment. The film industry is a global ecosystem, and the UK benefits from a significant volume of US investment in particular. As well as our competitive tax reliefs and state of the art studio infrastructure, a significant draw for US productions is our world-class, skilled crew. This strong link between the UK and the US means that current strike action by the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America is having a knock-on impact on UK-based productions and crew.
The government is engaging with stakeholders across industry, from studios and streamers to unions, to understand the full impact of continued strike action on crew, cast, studios, and related fields such as visual effects, post-production and cinema exhibition.
The government has no plans to introduce an income replacement scheme for affected workers. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government provided unprecedented economic support through employment support schemes. This included the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which succeeded in supporting 11.7 million jobs across the UK (with employer claims totalling £70 billion), ensuring that throughout the pandemic, employees received 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, as well as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which paid out over £28 billion across all five grants to nearly 3 million self-employed individuals. Sector-specific support was also provided, including through the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which protected over 5,000 organisations and supported 220,000 jobs in the arts, heritage and creative sectors and the £500 million Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, which supported over 100,000 jobs. However, these schemes were designed as temporary interventions to support individuals and businesses alike while widespread restrictions were in place.
HMRC has a ‘Time to Pay’ policy which may provide some support to affected crew. This policy allows businesses and individuals experiencing temporary financial difficulty to schedule their tax debts into affordable, sustainable, and tailored instalment arrangements with no maximum repayment period. These arrangements can be applied to any tax debt and are flexible, so they can be amended if circumstances change. More information about Time to Pay can be found by calling HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 024 1222.
More broadly, the government will support the high proportion of freelancers in the sector in line with the goal set out in the Sector Vision to ensure all parts of the creative industries are recognised for offering high quality jobs, ensuring a resilient and productive workforce that reflects the whole of the UK. This will involve promoting fair treatment and working practices, and enhancing support networks and resources for creative freelancers through Creative UK's Redesigning Freelancing initiative. In addition, DCMS and industry will produce an action plan in response to the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre’s Good Work Review.
DCMS also commissioned the BFI to undertake a Skills Review, published in 2022, which outlines skills shortages across Film and High End TV production. The government will continue to work with the BFI and the newly established screen sector Skills Task Force to support a strong skills pipeline in the sector and attractive careers pathways into the industry.
The government will also continue our wider support for the screen industries through generous tax reliefs, investing in studio infrastructure, supporting innovation, and promoting independent content through the UK Global Screen Fund.
Department for Culture, Media & Sport
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