Lib Dems lead fight against "creatives exodus" of Bristol amidst Covid-19 crisis

The Liberal Democrats are leading a cross-party effort to secure Government agreement for an economic package to support Bristol's world leading creative industries, including a timeline for its urgent implementation.

Writing to the Chancellor, the cross-party group of parliamentarians, which does not include Bristol's current MPs, have warned that government support so far has failed to reach “the very large numbers of directors of small limited companies, freelancers or agency workers that keep our creative industries booming.”

Over 130 MPs and peers from across the political spectrum have signed the letter and expressed fears that unless further action is taken quickly workers in the Creative Industries and their families will be “left with no option than to join the ever-growing queue for Universal Credit.”

The German federal government has already announced in recent weeks an aid package for the country’s creative and cultural sectors. This includes a €50 billion for small businesses and freelancers, including those from the cultural, creative, and media sectors.

Daisy Cooper MP, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport who coordinated the letter, is hopeful of a virtual meeting with the Government having secured the support of the Creative Industries Federation and UK Music.

Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper said:

“The Coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. Thousands of families will face financial hardship and people are rightly worried about their loved ones.

“While we saw government step in to stabilise banks in 2008, we have not seen the same urgency for the plight of many across the creative industries who are self-employed, freelancers or agency workers.

“Unlike Germany, the Government’s response has been too slow. Ministers must resolve the gaps in their plans and come forward with adequate support or risk decimating Britain’s world leading creative industries, one of the fastest growing parts of the UK economy.”

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Bristol West James Cox added:

"Bristol is home to thousands of creative businesses and people, many of whom are worried about their livelihoods and the long-term consequences the Covid-19 crisis will have on the creative industries.

"Bristol's Old Vic won't be open for months, neither will the dozens of music venues, museums and galleries in our city. Film shoots have been postponed and we've already seen the cancellation of festivals and events over the summer. These cancellations, postponements and delays have serious knock on effects and we need to see urgent action from the Government.

"Nobody should be forced out of Bristol because of this crisis. Without help from the Government for those in the creative industries working self-employed or in a freelance capacity we risk a creatives exodus from our city."

Liberal Democrat Bristol Mayoral Candidate and NUJ Welfare Officer Mary Page added:

“Bristol is a hive of innovation and creativity, a centre for the regional media, documentary and film industry. Bristol 24/7, Ujima radio and the Cable are just a few of the incredible outputs of alternative cultural and news coverage from our city. It’s not just the Directors that are being let down by this government, the provisions for our freelance sector are inadequate, and they are doubly impacted as rely on these companies to provide flexible contracts.”

Caroline Norbury, Chief Executive of Creative Industries Federation, added:

“Creativity is an intrinsic part of the UK’s cultural identity, and one of the things that the country excels at globally. The creative sector will also be critical to driving the UK’s economic recovery - and transforming lives for the better in every community - as we re-build.

“For our sanity, our culture and our sense of shared experience, it is imperative that creative professionals are protected and supported through this crisis."

Tom Kiehl, UK Music’s Acting Chief Executive: said:

“Many in the music industry are required to be Company Directors to conduct their work yet are currently disqualified from Government help for the self-employed and cannot furlough without damaging their business. We are urgently seeking Government help to make sure these individuals, often low earners, do not slip through the net.”

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