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Wed, 21 October 2020

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Thousands in the creative industry at risk of redundancy, unless the government introduces sector-specific support

Thousands in the creative industry at risk of redundancy, unless the government introduces sector-specific support

Thousands of people who risk redundancy as early as next month, simply because the government’s restrictions mean their employers can’t operate, writes Julian Knight MP. | PA Images

3 min read

Without the DCMS sectors thriving, there can be no recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. The government needs to take action now and introduce tailored, sector-specific support.

‘Organisations in the digital, culture, media and sport sectors are facing the challenge of their lifetimes. Lockdown restrictions over the past seven months have affected the DCMS sectors more than almost any other industries.

Many organisations are still largely unable to operate as the country braces for a second wave of Covid-19, with decisions taken now determining which businesses survive and which jobs are lost, as well as shaping the sectors for many years to come.

The DCMS sectors are among Britain’s greatest success stories, with attractions like the British Museum, the Globe Theatre, football stadia all over the UK and concert venues like the O2, the Royal Albert Hall and Birmingham’s NEC collectively drawing millions of people each year to enjoy all the events and exhibitions they have on offer.

Without the impressive contribution of these innovative, creative sectors, which have grown at twice the rate of the rest of the economy over the past decade, there would have been no recovery after the Global Financial Crisis.

Without the DCMS sectors thriving, there can be no recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. In terms of their contribution to our economy and society, the DCMS sectors punch above their weight and draw talent and awe from all over the world.

That’s why I’ve sponsored a backbench business debate on support for the DCMS sectors, both in the immediate term and in the months and years to come.

Even though these sectors represent around a fifth of the economy and drive so much growth, they account for less than one per cent of government spending

Over the past six months, I know many of us have felt deeply the loss of live events, such as theatres and live music. For sports fans across the country, the uncertainty about when they’ll next be able to go to a match is frustrating. For those businesses, eager to open and unable to generate income otherwise, there’s a sense of desperation.

And so many businesses and events in the culture sectors still can’t take place. For the first year in living memory, we could be facing a Christmas with no carol services.

If we want to ensure that all these things we know and love survive the coming months and years, the government needs to take action now.

The nature of these interactive, engaging industries means they’re more people-facing than most and therefore unable to generate viable income. Theatres and live music events rely on selling around 70 per cent of tickets, which just isn’t possible with social distancing.

What’s needed is tailored, sector-specific support. Even though these sectors represent around a fifth of the economy and drive so much growth, they account for less than one per cent of government spending. The government has taken steps to support the sectors, allocating £1.57 billion for the Culture Recovery Fund, but the scale of the challenge is such that it just doesn’t go far enough.

As the furlough scheme starts to wind down, as many as 30 per cent of employees in the DCMS sectors remain on the scheme. That’s thousands of people who risk redundancy as early as next month, simply because the government’s restrictions mean their employers can’t operate.

Without immediate intervention and sustainable plans for reopening, including ‘no earlier than’ dates to allow businesses to plan, rapid testing and top-notch Test and Trace to allow performances to take place without social distancing and measures to support businesses that cannot currently open, there’s a risk that thousands of essential, creative jobs may never return.’

 

Julian Knight is the Conservative MP for Solihull and chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

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