British screenwriters affected by country's cost-of-living crisis

The Writers' Guild of Great Britain survey also highlighted an industry-wide dearth of opportunity and an increase in poor practice

By Priyanca Rajput 15 Nov 2022

British screenwriters affected by country's cost-of-living crisis
Writers' Guild Awards 2020. Credit: WGGB

A survey conducted by The Writers' Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) found that 55% of writers have been impacted by the rising cost of living.

They said that rising energy and food costs throughout 2022 affected their ability to sustain a writing career — severely impacting livelihoods, and the cultural industries which depend on their skills.

The WGGB’s survey of over 250 writers found other factors that impacted their ability to write included: having less time to work or apply for funding, development schemes or other opportunities.

67% of those surveyed reported having to rely on their savings in order to manage day-to-day expenditure, while 37% said they had to rely on their partners’ earnings. More than 70% of respondents had earned £18,000 or less for their writing work in the last financial year. The majority (over 80%) said they were freelance writers, highlighting the precarious nature of employment for screenwriters, playwrights, authors, audio dramatists and video games writers that the union represents.

The survey also highlighted an industry-wide dearth of opportunity and an increase in poor practice. Several respondents highlighted how real wages were not rising with inflation as the creative industries continued to experience the dual shocks of Brexit and Covid. There were many reports of late payments, shrinking production budgets and reduced audience sizes.

Writers across TV, film, theatre, audio, books, comedy and video games reported feeling worried about how cost-of-living increases would affect the creative industries, with many fearing that shrinking demand amongst audiences and consumers would force organisations to close. Independent video game studios, theatres, publishers and screen production companies were cited by many respondents as being particularly at risk.

WGGB general secretary, Ellie Peers said: “After living through the dual impact of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, writers are now having to face a severe cost-of-living crisis, as our new survey shows. The UK faces a series loss of writing talent, and this risks pulling the rug from under our world-beating cultural industries, which contribute over £100 billion to our economy and enjoy an enviable global profile. We will be working with our industry partners to address the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on writers, we will continue to campaign and lobby, and we will defend our members against poor practice wherever we find it.”

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