Updated 05/08/17

Creative Industries Federation reports on freelances

THE CREATIVE Industries Federation's long-awaited report Creative Freelances was published as the August print edition of the Freelance went to press.

Readers may recall the Freelance encouraging you back in March to contribute to what looked like a well-designed survey, with an unusual amount of free text to describe your own unique freelance situation. The report took testimony from 700 freelances from across the creative industries, in which they estimate that some 47 per cent of creatives are self-employed compared to just 15 per cent of all UK workers. The most common self-description of respondents to the survey was "writer" - 124 respondents used this term to describe themselves - although "creative industries" covers everything from visual artists to dancers and workers in museums, libraries and galleries.

The Federation highlights a "lack of understanding by policymakers" on freelance issues. Freelances For example there is no UK visa for freelances, while universities are ranked based on "numbers of students in full-time employment after graduation", ignoring those who freelance. Despite their importrance, freelances in the creative industries "feel invisible".

The report also has a big section on the implications of Brexit, estimating that 6.1 per cent of the sector's workers are "other EU" passport-holders. At a time when there is much questioning about what sort of country the post-Brexit UK is going to be, the report observes that growth in the UK creative industries remains healthy.

Some of the challenges faced by "creatives" vary according to the sectors or regions they work in. Marketing and PR people identified in the CIF survey a lack of awareness of copyright among clients, visual artists - especially in the cities - cite finding workspaces as an increasing problem. (One respondent reported looking all around the UK for affordable, suitable workspace before giving up and moving to Berlin.)

There's also a look at how freelances became freelance - some were "too specialist" to get regular salaried work, others were after "creative control", many had family commitments that forced them into it, a tenth of those who answered the survey cited "redundancy and external pressures".

Recommendations include making self-employment a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) ministerial brief, pilot schemes for short-term social security schemes for the self-employed, funding for oline accreditation for freelances and measures to protect creatives' workspaces being turned into residential units, such as planning permission restrictions on changes of use.