A membership survey by Women in Film and TV U.K. has revealed that more than 90% of respondents have lost all income as a result of COVID-19’s devastating impact on the local industry.
The 249 members who responded come from all areas of the industry, from directing and on-location roles, to production management and craft-based jobs.
The WFTV survey revealed that 39% of respondents have lost their jobs completely, while 31% have had current work canceled with no income coming in. Around 26% say projects have been paused, leaving them without a source of income.
Elsewhere, 4% of respondents said they had film and TV work canceled, but have some income rolling in due to other work in other industries.
Liz Tucker, chair of WFTV U.K., said, “Our survey shows how the COVID-19 crisis is creating acute financial distress. It’s leaving our members really worried and concerned about how they pay their bills, rent and mortgages in the coming months.
“While we welcome the government’s financial packages, which will help support some freelancers and the self-employed, the current package has left many of our freelance and self-employed members unable to claim any financial support at all. Far too many of them simply fall through the cracks of the current support scheme,” said Tucker.
As reported previously, the U.K. government is facing increasing pressure from the creative industries, who have highlighted that economic measures set out for the self-employed last week by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak do not go far enough to protect the gig economy.
While the measures cover a proportion of creative industries workers, not all are eligible for the benefits. Those who fall between the cracks include workers who began self-employment after April 2019, recent graduates, those paid in dividends, temporary workers, and short-term contractors on pay-as-you-earn plans.
WFTV, like many industry groups and unions, are now lobbying the government for further coverage.
Three areas of concern include support for freelancers with less than one year’s accounts, as the measures require the self-employed to have a self assessment tax return for 2019; those earning more than £50,000 ($61,000) or more, who are currently unable to claim anything; and those working through limited companies, for whom a better option would be recognizing combined salary and dividends rather than salary alone.
WFTV is currently engaged in a number of online financial and well-being webinars to supports its membership.
Tucker added: “At the moment this is a very fast-changing situation, with financial advice from the government being updated on an almost daily basis, so as we respond to this crisis and continue to hear from our members, there may well be support for other groups that the Chancellor needs to look at again, too.”