Empowering the Freelance Economy

Backlash over HMGov ‘Fatima’ ballerina re-skill ad as PM Johnson rejects three million ‘Excluded’ have had no support

Who is #Fatima?/#The Art Share/FLIdP

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Commons on Monday: “The self-employed, which is a group that I think we all care about very much, have received so far £13.5 billion of support and we’ll continue to look after them as well.”

However, Johnson rejected the claim by Green MP Caroline Lucas that three million self-employed people have had no support, such as furlough or grants, since March. To hear her conversation with the Prime Minister, scroll down Lucas’ Tweet below.

Some MPs, such as Green MP Carolina Lucas are fighting for financial support for the 3 million self-employed that have been denied any grant or furlough support.

Ballerina ad backlash?

Instead, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has suggested that people who cannot find work in their chosen field should consider retraining.

The messaging, however, saw backlash and even devastation from a US photographer whose image of a ballerina was used in an HMGov ad campaign that backs up the re-training initiative. Krys Alex, the photographer of the viral ballerina photo used by the UK Government ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot’ Ad, gave her first statement since seeing her work used in the campaign in a video. Hear her statement in the featured video of this article.

Comedians and musicians alike spoke out on social media over the Chancellor’s statements, including comedian, TV host and author, Sue Perkins. Perkins suggested in a Tweet that she ‘retrain as the Chancellor of the Exchequer.’

Since the Chancellor made his remarks on ITV, the news programme, ITV News, has subsequently amended its report and Sunak stated on Twitter: “An earlier ITV News tweet falsely suggested I thought people in arts should retrain and find other jobs. I’m grateful they have now deleted that tweet. I care deeply about the arts which is why our £1.57 billion culture package is one of the most generous in the world”.

However, according to the Musicians’ Union, freelancers in the music industry will not directly benefit from that fund at all.

“Which makes the cut in general COVID funding for the self-employed – and ongoing limitations that mean some freelancers have had no support at all – all the more problematic,” stated a news report by Complete Music Update.

On reflection, perhaps Sunak may have made a more realistic suggestion whereby encouraging and providing startup company incentives, such as lower taxes or grants combined with sector-related career coaching, so that their existing skills and experience could be transferred to a digital platform, where possible, or within their sector. Do we really want ballerinas to become bookkeepers? No, we want creative, out of the box thinking to keep everyone gainfully employed.

While the government is providing career coaching in Job Centres, one has to take with a pinch of salt that these ‘coaches’ may be recently trained job coaches and realistically have little to no sector-specific knowledge. It will be frustrating for candidates if these coaches do not understand or appreciate the value in their experience or unwillingness to turn their back on years if not decades of sector-related experience to then re-train and start all over again and with a rookie’s pay.

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