Cllr Jacqui Dyer is the Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Community Safety (job share), and a councillor in Vassall Ward.
The coronavirus crisis is a public health emergency, but it is also a threat to our economy, workers’ jobs and livelihoods. Nearly one in five workers in London, 860,000, are self-employed, with many of them having little income to fall back on as their incomes are taking a significant drop. Many, especially those who work in the construction industry, are torn between following the advice from Public Health England on social distancing, and continuing to work as they lack the security of an income. Every worker deserves to be protected, no matter if they are employed by a company, on zero hours contracts or self-employed.
We welcome the government’s generous scheme for employees, which will involve paying 80% of the salaries, up to £2,500 a month. Unfortunately, this is not the case for those who are self-employed, most of them having to apply for Universal Credit and receive £408 a month. A swift decision from the government regarding how to support those with insecure incomes is required and we have joined other London boroughs in a call to action.
One key area in Lambeth is the borough’s creative and digital industries, which provide 22,000 jobs, generating £1.8bn GVA to the economy. The borough is home to 20 Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations, including the National Theatre, BFI, Rambert and the Southbank Centre. Council Leader Cllr Jack Hopkins and the directors of Lambeth’s leading cultural organisations have written to the Chancellor about the borough’s cultural sector and its self-employed workers, warning that they may risk closure without additional help. These organisations play a key part in ensuring the diversity and accessibility of London’s cultural sector, which is threatened by loss of income over the coming months.
The Creative Industries Federation has already addressed the vulnerable position of those who are self-employed, with a third of those from the industry being in this situation and many of them already losing all income. We join their call for the government to provide them a monthly income matching average earnings over the past three years.
Cllr Jacqui Dyer