Almost half of UK’s freelance film and TV workers struggling financially

Bectu demonstration in leicester square hollywood strikes
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It’s tough times for a sizeable portion of the UK’s screen sector, as a new survey suggests that lots of freelance film and TV workers are struggling to make ends meet.

The Film & TV Charity have released the findings of a recent survey – and it doesn’t make for pretty reading. The report was covered by Deadline and lays bare the alarming number of UK workers in the screen industry who are struggling to make a living. The charity surveyed 2,000 freelancers for its Money Matters report and found that ‘40% feel they wouldn’t be able to make ends meet for any more than a month if they lost their income. This figure dropped by around 5 percentage points for those who have run out of money before the end of the week or month “most of the time” over the past year. More than 70% were pessimistic or very pessimistic about their financial future and 42% had less than £1,000 in savings.’

The report makes for difficult reading, but it’s not surprising given that the UK’s screen industry was rocked by the US strikes that affected much of last year. This, in tandem with a cost of living crisis and a national economic downturn has led to freelancers in the screen industry finding themselves in an increasingly uncomfortable position. This follows on from last year, when the charity revealed that it had seen an incredible 800% rise in applications for its Stop-Gap Grant for workers experiencing urgent financial need. 

It’s far too easy to suggest that now the strikes are over, the UK industry will be back on its feet and these workers will all be fine. The turmoil of the last year has exposed a soft underbelly to one of the UK’s most profitable sectors, while also demonstrating just how vulnerable many of its workers are.

Read more: As Hollywood strikes near their conclusion, UK crews are still suffering

Those are certainly the thoughts of FTVC CEO Marcus Ryder, who has said that the report is clearly troubling:

“Currently, behind the scenes workers are asked to navigate an industry prone to boom and bust cycles, to deal with structural shifts and respond and pivot to meet the needs of changing business models,” he said.

“In too many cases, they’re asked to do so without any of the safety nets afforded to other workers, despite being at the heart of a multi-billion pound pillar of the UK economy. At the same time, we ponder why people are leaving the workforce and why we struggle to attract and retain talent from marginalised or under-represented groups.”

We can only hope that these workers find themselves back into work soon, but it’s clear that plenty of them might well be considering futures in industries that aren’t so prone to such unpredictability and turmoil. That kind of talent drain would be a huge loss for a growing industry and we can only hope that action is taken to prevent such suffering in the future.

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