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Creative Industries: Highly Skilled Workers

Volume 685: debated on Thursday 10 December 2020

We recognise the crucial role of high-skilled workers in making our creative industries world leading. The £1.57 billion culture recovery fund provides targeted support to critical cultural arts and heritage organisations during the pandemic and the £500 million film and TV production restart scheme has supported 4,500 jobs in the screen sectors to date.

SSE Audio employed 196 people in the supply chain of the events industry until March; 75 of those have already been made redundant. Last year it paid £2.45 million to freelancers as well. Its freelancers are among the excluded group who have had no financial support, the business did not qualify for the cultural recovery fund, 99% of which has gone to venues, not suppliers, and unless the furlough scheme is extended in January it will have to make the rest of its workforce redundant. Is it not the case that suppliers such as SEE Audio and its freelancers are essential to the recovery of this brilliant sector of our economy?

The hon. Gentleman is right to talk about all the amazing parts of the industry that support our creative and cultural venues up and down the country. Of course this Government have just put in an incredible amount of unprecedented business support right across every sector—over £100 billion for the furloughing scheme, the self-employed income support scheme, grants, loans, VAT deferrals—and for freelancers we know the best thing we can do is get our sectors back up and running. That is what the culture recovery fund is all about.

Today, research from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre has shown that in the last six months there have been 55,000 job losses in music and the performing and visual arts—all that talent, dedication and diversity of voices lost. Our creative workers are desperate to get back to doing what they do best, and we know the simplest way to get money to freelancers is to make shows, but to do that producers need a safety net. Germany has just announced an indemnity fund so event organisers can plan for the second half of 2021 without the financial risk posed by a potential covid outbreak. Industry predictions suggest a three-month indemnity here could get the sector back on its feet. I know that the Minister is receptive to this idea, so can she explain what is holding things up? Has the Chancellor again said no?

The hon. Member is absolutely right to highlight that our creative industries are a fantastic success story. They contribute more than £112 billion to our economy, more than the automotive, aerospace and life sciences sectors combined, so we do need to do everything we can to help them. The next stage of the cultural recovery fund will be announced shortly—that is another £258 million—and we are looking very carefully at the German insurance model. It has only been announced this week so the details have not been made clear. We have to be sure that it really is the only obstacle to things being able to reopen, but we very happy to have those conversations with the Treasury.