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Warning over ‘crippling inequalities’ in UK

The UK’s Creative Industries Federation (CIF) has warned of “crippling inequalities across the country” as a result of the pandemic.

The CIF conducted a survey of more than 800 creative practitioners and organisations, which revealed that since the start of the pandemic, 63% of respondents have seen their turnover decrease by more than half.

Three-quarters of those working in areas dependent on live audiences have seen a drop in income of more than 50% since the pandemic began.

Freelancers and those based outside of London have been among the hardest hit, with freelancers 20% more likely than organisations to have seen a drop in income of 75% or more since the pandemic began.

Respondents outside of London, meanwhile, were 8% more likely than those in London to have seen decreases in turnover of more than 75%.

Across all respondents, those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were more than twice as likely to report that it would take over 12 months to return to normal income levels if the pandemic were to end tomorrow.

While half of respondents said they had been able to deliver a small number of activities online, 80% said digital activities had only delivered a little income or not delivered any income at all.

Outside of London, respondents were 39% more likely to be unable to deliver activities online and 28% more likely to say that new digital activities have been unable to deliver any income.

The CIF is calling for urgent government intervention in this year’s Spring Budget, including the expansion of creative industries tax reliefs, a Culture Innovation Programme, a government-backed insurance scheme for live events and an extension of income support measures, such as for those who continue to fall through the gaps of support schemes, to help mitigate the long-term effects of the pandemic on communities up and down the country.

In addition to the Spring Budget demands, the CIF has repeated its call on the government to seek urgent renegotiation with the European Union to remove barriers to touring and delivering creative services across Europe following Brexit.

Caroline Norbury, CEO of the CIF, said: “Creative industries bind communities together, are a major driver of economic growth and are integral to our collective wellbeing. However, what today’s statistics reveal is that there are still many parts of our sector that are facing real, significant hardship, particularly small businesses, freelancers and those reliant on audiences.

“It is particularly worrying that the impact is being felt hardest outside of London, where we know the creative sector is likely to take longer to bounce back. Our creative and cultural industries will be needed more than ever as we look to rebuild, spreading opportunity more widely and driving growth in all parts of the UK. Failure to act now could result in crippling inequalities across the country, with ramifications much broader than our sector.

“Creative industries are the industries of the future. They drive job creation and tourism, while bringing joy to millions. With the right Spring Budget interventions, combined with innovative local solutions and an EU touring agreement that works for all parts of our sector, our world-leading creative industries can not only bounce back, they can be enabled to do what they do best: create, innovate and generate world-beating ideas that ultimately enrich our lives, communities and country.”

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