CIF: Gig economy workers sign more contracts than creative freelancers

Friday 28 July 2017

Creative freelancers can be differentiated from gig economy workers by the number of contracts they sign up for, according to a new study.

The Creative Industries Federation’s (CIF) Creative Freelancers report found that around half of the self-employed creatives surveyed work on between one and nine contracts, whereas Uber drivers sign up for a maximum of 2,000 annually.

Driver contracts typically last for under an hour and the yearly total identified by the study assumes 260 working days were spent completing eight drives daily.

Forty freelance creatives assessed had long-term contracts lasting over a year, while 244 of them worked on between one and five contracts annually. Some 111 respondents also had up to ten contracts.

Rick Haythornthwaite, chair of the CIF, said: “This report shines a light on the working conditions and practices of British freelancers today. It also highlights the particular value of freelancers to the creative industries.

“Both government and business need better to understand this hugely important part of the workforce so that policy in this area is both sensible and fair and these workers can contribute most effectively to the UK’s highly successful creative sector.”

Mr Haythornthwaite described freelancers as the “undervalued backbone” of Britain’s thriving creative economy. 

He added that freelancers have been invisible to policymakers for too long, explaining that the Creative Freelancers report hopes to change things. 

As part of the report, the CIF has called for the government to recognise the importance of the creative freelance workforce. The group wants to see self-employment across all sectors to be made part of the ministerial brief in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 

In addition to this, the research recommends introducing an immigration system that favours creative freelancers. 

To boost the appeal of freelancing across the country, the CIF wants to launch a creative careers campaign that promotes the creative industries and tackles any misconceptions.

Along with attracting new people to the sector, the group recommends the introduction of an independent UK-wide virtual hub that supports small businesses and allows peer-to-peer mentoring.

To help freelancers, the CIF is calling for pilot mechanisms in order to provide sustainable social security for freelancers. These could include short-term relief grants or community sport. 

As well as helping self-employed professionals to thrive creatively, the report recommends giving them more assistance with transitioning to Making Tax Digital and filling out quarterly tax returns. 

With legislation such as IR35 having a huge impact on earnings, such guidance could be extremely beneficial. 

By Victoria McDonnell

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