Hardship Fund for Creative Freelancers
Name of Grant:
Hardship Fund for Creative Freelancers
Legal power used:
Funding was provided to Creative Scotland to distribute this fund under the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, Section 39.
The Scottish Government committed £17m through Creative Scotland and Screen Scotland for creative freelancers who are experiencing hardship due to lost income from work and/or practice in the creative sector due to COVID-19. £8m was administered between October 2020 and February 2021. A further £9m was administered in March 2021.
These funds were to support creative freelancers working in Scotland who were experiencing immediate financial hardship due to the loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds were open to freelance professionals whose work has direct creative outcomes. This could include (but was not limited to) a visual artist, a writer or maker of poetry, prose or fiction, a playwright, actor or theatre-maker, a comedian, dancer, musician, craft maker or designer. The freelancer would derive a significant proportion of their income from their role in creating or producing original artistic, creative or design material.
Freelance professionals whose work directly supported the making and presentation of creative work including events. This could have included (but was not limited to) a theatre producer, a lighting designer, a gig promoter, an independent curator or creative producer. The freelancer would derive a significant proportion of their income from their role in supporting or producing original artistic, creative or design material and events
The funds offered a monetary contribution to those who were most deeply impacted and disadvantaged by the cancellation of work as a result of the emergency situation.
We trusted that those who request these funds were in need of emergency funding at this time.
Applicants were able to request a contribution to their access costs if they had experienced additional costs over and above their daily living costs during COVID-19 as a result of a disability or need to remain shielding.
As a contribution this was expected to be proportionate to the level of the award and not expected to exceed the level of the award itself.
We were also mindful that the equality duty was not just about negating or mitigating negative impacts, we also had a positive duty to advance equality of opportunity and to foster good relations.
Guidance was available in alternative formats including translations. Creative Scotland also offered access support to disabled applicants, tailored to individual requests.
Support included British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters for meetings and scribing support for dyslexic applicants. Officers can offer advice to new applicants and support them to make an application. The Equalities Team can offer additional one-to-one support to applicants with access requirements. Applications and supporting materials were accepted when written which are written in English, Gaelic or Scots. BSL users could access services with the Contact Scotland-BSL programme.
Key Findings - impact assessment of benefits and/or disadvantages.
Age: Older People and Children and Young People
Older people, and children were unlikely to have been impacted by this support. However, those of working age, will have been positively impacted by access to this support. This is because freelancers will have been positively impacted by the scheme as it was intended to provide support to creative freelancers experiencing hardship due to lost income from work and/or practice in the creative sector due to COVID-19.
Sex: Men and Women
The Covid business support schemes were designed to support established businesses, and the grants awarded reflect the pre-existing gender imbalance in the established business base.
The Evidence paper from the FM’s National Advisory Council on Women And Girls’ spotlight on gender inequality within the Creative industries can be found here. This highlights that in the Creative Industries, women account for around one third of the workforce and 60% of part-time positions. 42% of men working in the sector are in Professional Occupations, compared with 25% of women. Around two-thirds of senior managerial positions are held by men and two-thirds of the Administrative / Secretarial positions are held by women.
Using the Arts, recreation and entertainment sector as a proxy, the full-time median gender pay gap was 4.1% in 2019. This was below the average for Scotland overall and was one of the smallest full-time gender pay gaps of any sector.
44% of women respondents to Creative Scotland’s “Understanding Diversity in the Arts” survey cited gender as a barrier to career progression compared to 12% of men.
Therefore, while this scheme will have had a positive impact on jobs, including those held by both men and women in the creative sector, there are inequalities for women in the creative sector itself.
Creative Scotland published two EDI reviews, ‘Understanding Diversity in the Arts’ (July 2017) and ‘Screen Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion Review’ (January 2017), which provided a snapshot of the creative sector in Scotland and explored the barriers experienced by those working in the arts. Around 5% of all respondents stated they are from a minority ethnic or mixed group, this compares to 3.7% of the Scottish population (Census 2011). Half of respondents identifying in the minority ethnic or mixed groups stated their ethnicity was a barrier, with Minority Ethnic respondents also indicating a lower median income than average at £15,000.
This funding is expected to have a positive impact on eligible creative freelancers from ethnic minority backgrounds by addressing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
30% of respondents to a 2016 Creative Scotland survey stated they had a disability/long term health condition . This is well above the national average of around 20%. However, 22% of the respondents stated their disability reduced their ability to carry out day-to-day activities ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’, which is closer in line with national level statistics. The most common condition, selected by 14% of all respondents is a mental health condition. 43% of disabled respondents stated that their disability was a barrier. This increased in line with the severity of their disability. Respondents who reported having a disability/long term health conditions were more likely to earn less than the average for the sector. However, this does not take into account part time working.
This funding is expected to have a positive impact on eligible disabled creative freelancers by addressing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
Religion and Belief
We have no evidence to suggest that people with religion or belief are likely to have been impacted positively or negatively by this fund.
We have no evidence to suggest that sexual orientation is likely to have been a factor influencing whether this fund has had positive or negative impacts on a person.
Pregnancy and maternity
We have no evidence to suggest that pregnancy and maternity is likely to have been a factor influencing whether this fund has had positive or negative impacts on a person.
We are aware of the issues in inequality across the music sector faced by those who are pregnant or who are Mothers. This is why we are supportive of Creative Scotland’s ‘Radical care’ scheme which seeks to investigate the practicalities of providing childcare in creative workspaces. 
In Creative Scotland’s “Understanding Diversity in the Arts Survey Summary Report”, a third of survey respondents had parental or carer responsibilities with no significant variance by gender. However, there was significant gender variation in how responsibilities are shared, 57% of females described themselves as the primary or sole carer compared with only 9% of males; 44% of respondents felt that carer responsibilities were shared equally (although males were more likely to state this than females).
We have no evidence to suggest that gender reassignment is likely to have been a factor influencing whether this fund has had positive or negative impacts on a person.
Marriage or Civil Partnership
We have no evidence to suggest that marriage or civil partnership is likely to have been a factor influencing whether this fund has had positive or negative impacts on a person.
Socio-economic disadvantage: any people experiencing poverty
In Creative Scotland’s “Understanding Diversity in the Arts Survey Summary Report”, economic limitations was the most commonly cited barrier to career progression, selected by 76% of all respondents. The qualitative data reveals the low earnings and precarity of the careers of many who work in the arts. Economic limitations was more commonly cited by women, part time workers and by those who were primarily artists.
This scheme will likely have had a positive impact on people with a socio-economic disadvantage as it targeted freelance professionals who derived a significant proportion of their income from their artistic role. People with more than £6000 in savings could not apply.
We have engaged extensively with businesses and venues, and representative organisations across the creative industries during the pandemic.
Engagement with the music sector includes regular communication with:
the Scottish Commercial Music Industry taskforce, Scottish Music Industry Association, Music Venues Trust, STUC Culture Affiliates, and more. These organisations offer perspectives from a broad range of music stakeholders who will have had access to the freelancer schemes.
This provided an opportunity to listen to stakeholder views, test ideas, share information about progress and discuss and address specific issues identified by sectors and individual businesses. This has enabled us to ensure the schemes are not unintentionally discriminative to any groups with protected characteristics and to identify any potential barriers to engagement .
Alternative Formats, Languages and Access Support for guidance was available. There was also an Enquiries Service at Creative Scotland for any issues. This has ensured we have been able to provide support for disabled people as well as people whose first language was not English.
We have engaged extensively with venues and representatives from across the creative industries, including unions, to ensure any negative impact on people with protected characteristics would be spotted.
Next Steps (if any)
We recently published a paper for the FM’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls’ spotlight on gender inequality within the creative industries, where we suggest a need for further work to tackle the gender inequalities across the creative industries. This paper recognises that the creative industries and arts have a role to play in tackling gender inequality, but also that there is an exciting opportunity for the sector to lead by example. The creative and varied nature of the creative industries and arts sector means that they have a unique voice and potential to reach and engage with new audiences, both in Scotland and globally, on issues of diversity, including on gender inequality.
We continue to work with Creative Scotland and partners to discuss gender inequality within the music sector.
We have a Programme for Government commitment to revise our Creative Industries Policy Statement, and improving equalities within the creative industries will form a part of this.
Declaration and Publication
I have read the Equality Impact Assessment and I am satisfied that it represents a fair and reasonable view of the expected equality impact of the measures implemented.
Signed: Rachael McKechnie
Date: 28 February 2022
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