Nearly half (47%) of the creative workers in the creative industries are freelance, compared with 15% across the workforce as a whole. The report draws on evidence from 700 freelancers and around 50 organisations that use them to demonstrate who these workers are and what they do for the fastest growing sector of the British economy.
However, lack of understanding by policy makers means freelancers have been ignored or poorly served. For example, there is no visa for freelancers and universities are judged by the numbers of students in full-time employment after graduation, even in careers where a portfolio of freelance work is better training.
The report highlights practical issues, from tax returns to affordable workspace, where government could act to make a difference. It also challenges the sector to take responsibility for bad practices such as late payment and the prevalence of unpaid work.
Recommendations to improve the working lives of the self-employed include:
Piloting ways of providing sustainable social security for freelancers
Providing extra support during transition to Making Tax Digital and quarterly tax returns
Protecting freelancers’ creative workspaces against development
Making self-employment, across all sectors, part of a ministerial brief in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Supporting an independent UK-wide virtual hub - a business booster network - which would be a one-stop shop for business advice and facilitate peer-to-peer mentoring for creative entrepreneurs.
The full report can be read here.
Through this valuable work, we hope those working in the arts will be better supported and understood.