Freelancers falling through support gaps

“Too many are falling between the gaps in the package of COVID-19 support that has been announced,” warns CIPR LPS Committee Member Dominic Ridley-Moy.

Dominic Ridley-Moy portrait

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He highlights latest research shared with Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) which shows half of PR freelancers have already lost 60 per cent or more of their income. The CIPR will be incorporating this data into its COVID-19 response for the sector. It will also use it to ‘lobby the Chancellor to re-think his suport for the freelance sector’. It said the research shows most freelancers will “receive no help from the COVID-19 measures depsite the immediate and significant impact on their incomes.”

The research study was carried out by freelancer matchmaker service The PR Cavalry and market researchers Intuit Research. From the 226 complete responses:

  • 33% of respondents have seen 80% or more of income disappear
  • a further 18% have seen income fall by between 60 and 80%

The CIPR, in its statement released on 6 April 2020, said: “The support package announced last week by the Chancellor fails to protect two-thirds of freelancers, mainly because around half operate – often at the request of public sector clients or on the advice of accountants – as a limited company. An additional 16% are as yet not certain whether they are eligible for support.”

The research highlights:

  • 6 in 10 freelancers are the main household earner
  • almost half have limited companies so get no support
  • half are considering leaving freelancing altogether
  • around one-third of those excluded miss out because they have not yet filed a self-employed tax return
  • until COVID-19 almost half were forecasting income growth of 10% or more this year

“I want to thank The PR Cavalry and Intuit Research for their efforts. Their research provides a worrying snapshot of hard-working professionals fearing for their livelihoods and without the financial support the Chancellor committed to in his budget when he promised he would do “whatever it takes”. Too many are falling between the gaps in the package of support that has been announced. We wrote to the Chancellor last week with these concerns and we will continue to lobby on behalf of our freelance community with this research.”

Dominic Ridley-Moy, CIPR Independent Practitioners Network Co-Chair

Nigel Sarbutts, Founder of The PR Cavalry, said: “This research clearly shows us what many have been concerned about since the Chancellor announced his package of measures. They fall very short of addressing what is happening to incomes today and will continue to affect thousands of PR professionals for months. I would like to thank the CIPR for supporting this work and working with us to represent the profession on this important issue.”

Stephen Yap, Director of Intuit Research, said: “The speed of impact is bewildering and the hope has to be that the recovery will not be as slow as it was after the credit crunch. I hope this research can play a part in making that happen and protecting the work and livelihoods of many in our profession. The research remains open and we would welcome as many responses as we can get.”

How you can take part

  • Participate in the survey. All submissions are anonymous.
  • Summary of findings in research conducted by The PR Cavalry and Intuit Research (PDF below opens in a new window)

FutureProof findings

The FuturePRoof COVID-19 survey finds urgent Government intervention needed to support freelancers.

Findings in the FutureProof COVID-19 survey, 22/3/2020

This #FutureProof survey found three key issues:

  • access to domestic customers (57.4%)
  • loss of income (80.9%) are the biggest immediate challenges and longer-term
  • more than a third of respondents (31.3%) are worried about cessation of trading

The FuturePRoof survey continues to be open for contributions – responses will be anonymous. The results will be shared with industry bodies CIPR and PRCA.

According to the PRCA PR Census 2019 the UK PR industry is worth £14.9 billion and employs 95,000 people.

Comments on the findings

Mandy Pearse, CIPR Local Public Services Vice Chair, said: “This is a great piece of work by Sarah Waddington and Stephen Waddington helping to develop a picture of how COVID-19 is affecting the PR industry and to lobby government for help. Please, if you work in PR, do take the time to complete the survey.”

FuturePRoof text in white on orange background

“With the industry shifting to virtual and flexible working in the space of a week it’s not surprising that respondents are reporting that immediate impacts of the crisis include isolation and juggling multiple demands including childcare, uncertainty and unemployment. It is critical that immediate support relates to mental health and wellbeing to reduce workforce anxiety and stress.” 
#FuturePRoof chair and former CIPR President Stephen Waddington

Stephen Wadds has highlighted some of the ways the CIPR and PRCA are working to support the PR industry in the COVID-19 crisis response.

“The past few weeks have placed our professional community under tremendous strain, but they have also shown how creative, flexible professionals can respond with energy and compassion. This survey gives us a critical snapshot of how our colleagues are faring, and the case for support we will be making to Government.”

Alastair McCapra, CIPR Chief Executive

“These #FuturePRoof findings are stark: our industry is under sustained and unparalleled pressure because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We all need to be agile and imaginative in our response to this new environment – and the findings show that senior practitioners are moving quickly in exactly that manner.”

Francis Ingham, PRCA Director-General

Information to support freelancers and businesses in CIPR LPS resource

Independent practitioners section of the CIPR LPS resource for communicators during the coronavirus outbreak.

CIPR support section of the public sector COVID-19

Business sector section in the resource guide

Wellbeing links



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