Thank you to those who have contacted me about a basic income guarantee for creative workers.
The nature of employment in the cultural sector means many creative workers have fallen outside the UK Government’s support schemes. An estimated three million people – including many self-employed creative professionals – have been unable to receive any support at all.
We are fast approaching a year since the first national lockdown. Despite the passage of so much time, I believe current support still falls far short of the Government’s pledge to do “whatever it takes” to help the nation through these tough times.
I strongly agree there should have been swifter intervention in the creative industries. I am concerned the UK Government has not addressed well-documented shortcomings of the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, where arbitrary criteria have left millions relying on Universal Credit (UC), which I believe is already insufficiently generous. In addition, UC remains at risk of a significant cut from April.
In terms of a basic income, I agree we must consider that the world of work has changed fundamentally. We are increasingly in a world of flexible employment, income volatility and demographic change. We need a new settlement that is more effective and offers proper protection to people. I welcome its inclusion in the debate as part of a more generous and less stigmatising system, although I also understand the scale of change involved in even modest basic income proposals.
Elsewhere, I support further measures that should be taken immediately to address people’s most pressing needs. The Government needs to commit to ending the five-week wait for UC, the benefit cap and two-child limit should be abolished and the savings threshold should be removed. The Government must also reconsider the planned cut to UC in April, which will come at a time when many are still struggling to make ends meet.