Julian Knight, Chair of the DCMS Committee, has criticised a response from UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to questions about government support for sectors hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s clear that the government needs to be doing much more to support the people in our creative industries who contribute so much to our national life but now find their livelihoods in jeopardy because they’re not eligible for government support schemes,” stated DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP. “It’s a matter of concern that ministers don’t have the figures on how many people in this sector find themselves without help.”
“Instead of championing them by ensuring that their needs are fairly met by the support schemes on offer, the Culture Secretary is defending the ‘difficult decisions’ the Treasury is making, saying it has to ‘draw a line’ somewhere on those schemes.”
“Freelancers, company directors, the self-employed have told us about the devastating consequences for them and the creative businesses they work for. They are looking to government for the necessary support to survive this crisis and we’ll be looking for answers next week from Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage.”
Knight’s comments came following receipt of a letter from Dowden in response to further questions from the DCMS Committee arising from his oral evidence session on the work of the department on April 22nd. The response covers a range of areas including: funding criteria for charities; 5G misinformation; the creative industries and Covid-19 support schemes; digital inclusion; engagement with the creative industries sector; funding for Rugby League.
The next evidence session will see MPs focus on practical and financial challenges facing the performing arts and the situation in the wider creative industries, the impact of Government support for employees and freelance workers in the creative sectors, and what support is needed for creative industries such as theatre and live music to reopen as lockdown measures are lifted.