Election 2024: Standing up for our creative industries 

Election 2024 - creative industries

 The Bectu sector of Prospect represents nearly 40,000 members working across the creative industries, including broadcasting, cinema, film, digital media, independent production, leisure, live events, theatre and the arts. 

The UK’s creative industries are a global British success story and an economic powerhouse, growing at more than 1.5 times the rate of the wider economy over the past decade and contributing £108 billion in gross value added (GVA) annually.  

Because this is an industry that generates a very high GVA, a judicious use of government investment and incentives can have unusually high rewards for the wider economy – driving tax revenues, productivity and employment growth as well as having a valuable cultural and civic impact. 

The problem

The skills and expertise of the UK’s creative workforce have placed the sector firmly on the world stage, attracting inward investment and overseas talent. However, key issues such as unsustainable working hours, the ‘feast or famine’ nature of employment, poor levels of diversity, bullying and harassment and a lack of employment rights for freelancers continue to plague the sector.  

Despite working in one of the UK’s most economically significant sectors, creative workers get a raw deal. They are among the country’s lowest paid, continue to suffer from precarious employment and are exposed to significant sectoral issues such as rampant bullying and harassment and abuse of power. They are more exposed to the ebbs and flows of the business cycle, and freelance workers lack many of the protections enjoyed by employees, such as sick pay, parental rights and pensions. 

The perfect storm of post-Brexit touring restrictions, Covid-19, cuts in commissioning, industrial disputes and the cost-of-living crisis have exacerbated these problems and left many Bectu members unable to sustain a career in the creative industries, prompting thousands to leave in search of more stable work and leaving huge skills gaps.  

Bectu members consistently tell us they are now worse off than in 2020, and many continue to feel the effects of insecure employment. A prolonged recruitment and retention crisis in the sector is well-established – more than a third of film and TV workers plan to leave the sector in the next 5 years, and this is even more pronounced for women and workers from the global majority. 

Any party with ambitions to govern should have a plan to meet these challenges.

Film and TV workers currently not working 68%
Contribution to the UK’s economic output in 2019 14%
Freelancers in the Cultural and Creative industries 28%

What we want to see happen

As detailed above, there are huge challenges for the creative industries. We want a future government to: 

1. Invest in the creative workforce

A future government must invest not only in creative businesses but also in the workforce that has long been struggling. It must better scrutinise the needs of the freelance workforce as a critical part of the interdependent ecosystem of the creative industries. 

2. Appoint a freelance commissioner

With 28% of the workforce of the Cultural and Creative Industries freelance, we are calling for the appointment of a Freelance Commissioner, to act as a voice for freelancers within government. 

3. Address restriction of movement for creative workers

Creative workers are also being curtailed by restrictions on their movements; to fully unleash the potential of UK creative skills and ensure the UK is a destination for skilled workers from all over the world, a future government must work with industry and unions to address these challenges. 

Implement the policies set out in our joint report with the Fabian Society and Community trade union.

Prospect’s report with the Fabian Society and Community trade union proposes a set of policies to help.

4. Implement Prospect’s manifesto for the BBC

The BBC’s success, and the health of public sector broadcasting, is critical for that of the wider UK creative industries. Our BBC manifesto outlines our vision for decent funding, fair pay, and secure jobs at the BBC.

The BBC’s funding model has been under threat in recent years, putting the future of our members’ jobs in jeopardy. A future government must ensure adequate funding in the future so that the BBC can continue as an incubator of British skills and talent. 

5. Safeguard nationally significant institutions

Government must commit to safeguarding nationally significant institutions and the highly skilled jobs associated with them.  

6. Work with industry to demand a greater focus on equality and diversity

To ensure that careers in the creative industries are open to all. This includes tackling the structural challenges that leave workers feeling isolated, that damage their mental health and devastate their financial security. 

7. Support the work of the recently established Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority

Government must support the work of the recently established Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority and encourage industry buy-in to this initiative to ensure the industry meaningfully tackles its bullying and harassment problem.  

*Note: This page reflects current Prospect thinking. Prospect National Conference takes place in early June. Relevant new policy agreed at Conference will be reflected here shortly afterwards.

Vote 24: Prospect’s manifesto to make work better

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