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UK writers call for government support

June 6, 2024

By Colin Mann

The UK creative industries are a success and writers are central to that, according to creative writers trade union the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB).

As the UK faces a General Election on July 4th, the WGGB has launched a manifesto which calls on whoever forms the next Government to implement its recommendations around four key areas, which it believes will protect, nurture and support UK writers.

Writers create the stories which form the bedrock of the UK’s world-leading creative industries, currently worth over £124 billion (€144bn) to the UK economy. Yet they are often underpaid, unprotected and their vital contributions overlooked.

Currently, whole sections of the creative industry are struggling to survive – theatres are closing or ceasing to develop new work, the number of UK independent films has been steadily reducing and  public service broadcasters are commissioning fewer original works.

This is reflected in what WGGB members have been telling the body. A poll of WGGB theatre members post-pandemic found that 74 per cent of playwrights had lost income due to the Covid shutdowns and 50 per cent believed they would not be working in two years’ time. And a WGGB survey on writers and AI published in 2023 found that 65 per cent of respondents believed that increased use of AI would reduce their income from writing, while 61 per cent were worried that AI could replace jobs in their craft area.

More support is needed to ensure that the UK can continue to produce content that reflects the vibrancy and diversity of modern Britain. This is true of all sectors in which WGGB members work in – film, TV, theatre, audio, books, poetry, comedy, animation and videogames.

WGGB’s manifesto recommendations centre around fair pay, fair treatment, a sustainable sector and copyright and AI.

WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said: “Our members conjure the characters, worlds and stories that delight audiences, whether that’s on the page, stage, screen or across our airwaves.”

“Writing is a highly skilled job and everything starts with the writer – without them there would be no feature films, TV or audio dramas, no plays, no books, poems or videogames.

“They provide the fuel that fires our creative industries, which in turn makes a major contribution to the UK economy. We call on whoever forms the next Government to enshrine protections for writers on fair pay and fair treatment, ensure that the creative sector is sustainable and, in a world that is being transformed by AI, introduce robust protections on copyright.”

The WGGB will be talking to stakeholders and decision-makers about its manifesto in the run-up to and after the election to ensure writers and their vital contributions are firmly on the agenda.

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