Creative Industries Federation has published a new report Creative Freelancers as part of an initiative aiming to transform the working lives of creative freelance workers.

Launched at an event at the National Theatre in London on Monday 17 July, the report draws on evidence from 700 freelancers and around 50 organisations to demonstrate who creative freelancers are and what they do for the fastest growing sector of the British economy.

Contributors include artists and a-n board members Emily Speed and Dan Thompson, while speakers at the launch included actor Imelda Staunton, and the report’s author Eliza Easton.

Creative Freelancers highlights that whilst 47 per cent of the workers in the creative industries are freelance (this compared with 15 per cent across the workforce as a whole), a lack of understanding means the needs of freelancers have been ignored or poorly served by policy makers, with many freelancers stating that they have never been consulted on the policies that affect them.

The report includes a number of profiles that explore why people in the creative industries become freelancers, how and where they work, and how they deal with practical issues such as tax returns and finding affordable work space.

Among its recommendations to improve the working lives of the self-employed are:

– 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 work spaces 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, or business booster network, which would be a one-stop shop for business advice and facilitate peer-to-peer mentoring for creative entrepreneurs

Speaking about the report, deputy director of the Creative Industries Federation Harriet Finney said: “Creative Freelancers aims to kick start a proper examination of the creative freelance workforce and encourage government to act to improve the conditions of their working lives.

“Government needs to better understand what these workers do so that it can consider the implications of any changes to policy.”

Lisa Burger, executive director of the National Theatre, added: “Freelancers are the lifeblood of our creative output at the NT. The freelance ecology allows us to work with the broadest possible range of artists and specialists to make innovative, high-quality work – this way of working is vital to our industry precisely because it supports flexibility, creativity and diversity.

“The relationship between creative freelancers and creative organisations needs to be supported for the UK’s world leading creative industries to continue to thrive.”

Speaking at the launch event, Imelda Staunton said she hoped the government would “read the report very carefully” and explained: “As an actor, I’ve always been a freelancer. It’s just how the theatre and film industries work.

“We’re so good at being creative in this country; it’s encouraging to see a report for all of the creative industries that takes the role played by freelancers seriously and suggests ways to address the more difficult aspects of being self-employed.

“The government, with this report, will be able to understand what this profession, what the creative industries, are about and what it needs to be the very best it can be.”

Read or download the full Creative Industries Federation Creative Freelancers report.

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