DCMS Consultation: Impact of COVID-19 on DCMS Sectors
I write as a self-employed Landscape Architect who also has experience working in other Creative Industry sectors including theatre & screen. I am based in North Devon.
This submission focusses on the position of the self-employed, freelancers and micro-companies who make up 89.46% of the UK workforce (ONS_ukbusinessworkbook2019) and
94% of the Creative Industries as a whole (Understanding the future of productivity in the creative industries – SQW 2016) of which 47% are self-employed. (Creative Industries Federation ‘Creative Freelancers Report 2017)
In Landscape Architecture, just under 50% of the Landscape Institute membership are micro enterprises with 14% self-employed; 13% sole traders and 17% in micro companies of less than 9 (State of Landscape. AHC 2017)
The Creative Industries across the board have been devastated by the impact of COVID-19. largely because Government has no comprehensive strategy that addresses the fact that by far the majority of workers in the sector work alone or in small teams, most of whom have little or no financial resilience to withstand the ramifications of lockdown and other impacts of the pandemic.
In Landscape Architecture, as with the rest of the UK workforce, the hardest hit by Covid-19 in the short term have been those who slipped through the net for the Government support initiatives including freelancers working on short-term contracts, people who did not have the right level of contributions to qualify for the self-employed scheme or were employed at the time of lock-down but for one reason or another could not be furloughed and were temporarily or permanently laid off.
Projects that were at the design stage at the beginning of lockdown and have not been cancelled or suspended have been able to continue, with designers working from home and attending virtual online meetings. However, once the economy starts again there will be an inevitable hiatus as clients decide whether or not to proceed to construction stage, and there will be many who will not have the resources to see projects through, so it is here just at the point when Government support is being phased out where the hardship will be felt most strongly.
The immediate financial support provided by the Government has played its role and a role that has been essential for many…. but NOW is the time to start thinking about the long term, change some of the old approaches and develop strategies that address the needs of the smaller business types across the whole Country and the whole Economy
If this is done for all parts of the economy then the Creative Industries could quickly be in a position to undertake one or more pilot programmes for a strategy that is then rolled out across the Country.
Read Also the new Creative Industries Federation Report Economic Impact of Covid-on the UKL Creative Industries