Survey confirms exclusion of parents and carers in UK screen sector

Raising Films has published the How We Work Now survey-based report this week, highlighting the urgent need for collective action addressing the issues faced by screen industries’ carers and parents, exacerbated by COVID-19 yet long pre-dating the pandemic. How We Work Now surveyed nearly 500 parents and carers working across the screen industries in the UK, launching on 17 May 2021, the day that cinemas re-opened in England, and closing on 5 July. The collected responses are calling on the fact that the screen industries remain largely incompatible with caring and parenting responsibilities, failing to enable and advocate for their workers with children or adult dependents, and highlighting the danger of losing whole skill-sets and experiences within the sector from an exodus of parents and carers who simply can no longer afford to walk this tightrope:

“As a freelance Senior Producer, I had a 6-month contract, I was a month into it and was let go in March 2020 along with 10 other freelancers – my contract was not worth the paper it was written on. No extra pay, let go that day. It was awful. Also, my parent suffered a stroke and nearly died, the following month, the same thing happened to my other parent. In October, my first job offer since I was let go, I had to turn it down to care for my elderly parent. I have not earned any money at all in the past year. I am on furlough as a company director and get barely enough to pay the mortgage. We are relying on parents supporting us. It’s been horrendous, I have always worked hard but in this industry there is just no job security at all and the experience of losing my job, despite my contract, has just highlighted how awful it is. I want to leave TV, I’ve just had enough. – Female respondent, 45-54yo, South East Wales.

Parenting and caring responsibilities are addressed as inequality. Almost two thirds of survey’s participants (58.61%) report caregiving as having a negative impact on their ability to work in the screen sector); while a staggering 63% of respondents are willing to leave the screen industries altogether, citing pressure and stress-induced mental health ailments.

How We Work Now points out that the burden of caring responsibilities remains gendered, with impact on employment: 34.25% women report ‘gender’ as an obstructive impact to their ability to work in the screen sector in general, and various quotes from respondents speak of the expectations of caregiving being automatically placed on them, especially within COVID-19 context of home-schooling, stay at home to look after vulnerable dependents who are shielding, etc.

 “I already dance the difficult dance of working part time in our industry due to my caring responsibilities and society and household's assumptions of the woman as the care provider.”  female respondent, 35-44yo, Yorkshire.

Respondents reflect on experiencing exponential exclusion as their caregiving intersects with other protected characteristics and socio-economic exclusions – e.g., for single parents, disabled parents and carers, and those having both parenting and caring (adult dependents) responsibilities.

One of those socio-economic factors is the financial disparity in the sector – with the prevalent respondent cohort identifying as “low-income worker” – close to 40% are earning less than £20,000 a year, making their position within the screen industries already a difficult balancing act – exacerbated by intersecting COVID-19 impact with the cost of care itself and freelancing status. It is also worth noting that while the percentage earning less than £20,000 increased between 2019-2020, the percentage earning over £50,000 is has remained stable (21.18%-20.25%)

Others identified barriers in transparency and information accessibility, as to existing financial support and other relief incentives, citing this as fuelling further feeling of exclusion from the industry – information not disseminated equally (or, not at all) to all screen sector workers. 73% of respondents would like to see training to pivot from its focus on workers to focus on those doing the hiring, contracting and HR, to ensure they are meeting the minimum requirements of implementing the Equality Act, paying a living wage, and recognising freelancers’ rights. Echoing this sentiment of exclusion from the industry’s information networks, respondents cited lack of visibility and representation within the screen sector

Several practical recommendations are included in the report, aligned with the specific needs and desired actions expressed by survey’s respondents. Calling on structural changes – like, mitigating exclusionary hiring practices based on informal and reputational networks; as well as cultural changes – e.g., ending fetishisation of long-hours culture and expectation of availability, especially in the context of remote working, where online presence is stretched to 24/7. 50.68% of the respondents indicate flexible working arrangements as top priority going forward. 49.32% want to see caregiving and access costs recognised as a supported budget line for production, exhibition and festival attendance, and childcare as a tax-deductible expense (68.22% respondents) and 43.46% wish for an increase in state subsidies for childcare. Across the board, support is shown for a range of financial changes, including advocacy of a universal basic income (34.58%) and a living wage for all roles (33.64%). Respondents want large-scale practices to reduce the precarity of working within the screen sector, bringing long-term changes in light of the challenges highlighted by COVID-19, creating a more stable environment for working caregivers.

The report contains a pull-out ‘guide’, How to Hire and Retain Parent and Carer Employees and Workers, which can be accessed via

How We Work Now findings urge the UK screen industries to finally “recognise that caregiving is an inequality that exacerbates in-work poverty and systemic exclusion”, and implement long-term solutions to make this sector viable for the parents and carers amongst the workforce.

Melanie Hoyes, BFI Industry Inclusion Executive / Film Fund, said: “It is imperative we listen to the experiences of our workforce, so we are pleased to support this timely research by Raising Films which recognises the incredibly important role of carers in our society, and the difficulties they face in balancing those duties with work. With our industry relying on a largely freelance workforce, the pandemic had a significant and negative impact, and these findings give us unique insight into how those with caring responsibilities have struggled to rejoin the workforce as the industry has reopened.”

David Smith, Director of Screen at Screen Scotland said: “True representation both on and off-screen is vital for the sustainability of the Scottish and UK Screen Sector.

We’re committed to developing and sustaining a skilled and diverse workforce, ensuring ways of working to suit a diverse range of needs by challenging existing approaches to working practices in the Screen Sector.

In partnership with our industry colleagues and Scottish Government, we will actively engage with the findings of this welcome report to consider and develop ways to implement its recommendations."

Further information, along with a link to the final How We Work Now report plus all additional materials, can be found on the Raising Films website at work-now/

Raising Films acknowledges the support that has allowed this work to take place and thanks our funders: the BFI using National Lottery funding, The National Lottery and the Scottish Government through Screen Scotland, The Screen Industries Growth Network, Bectu and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

Social media - Twitter: @RaisingFilms | Instagram: @RaisingFilms | Facebook: @raisingfilms Dedicated hashtag: #HowWeWorkNow


How We Work Now is a survey-based report from Raising Films, supported by our five funding partners: Creative Scotland, the BFI using funds from the National Lottery, Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN), Writers Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) and Bectu. It surveyed nearly 500 parents and carers working across the screen industries in the UK, launching on 17 May 2021 and closing on 5 July. The survey and report were compiled by the How We Work Now Research Collective: Dr. Jenny Chamarette, Louise Luxton, Dr. So Mayer and Dr. Ania Ostrowska; with input from the Raising Films team: founders Nicky Bentham, Line Langebek, Hope Dickson Leach and Jessica Levick, project manager Katy Swarbrick and comms team Oli Gots and Sally Hodgson. The How We Work Now report and resources were designed by Rachel Lipsitz.

On data analysis

Social class was not included in the survey’s questions but was commented on by a small but significant number of respondents in write-in answers. Instead, Question 41 asked respondents about their annual income 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. After initial review of the data revealed trends by income, responses to this question were recorded into three income brackets (£0-£19,999, £20,000-£49,999, £50,000+) and reporting on ‘low-income workers’ was recorded in the case studies. Income cannot be used as a direct measure of social class, but the significance of the findings in this cohort indicate that future research should include income and/or class as key cohorts.

About Raising Films

Raising Films’ mission is to support, promote and campaign for parents and carers in the UK screen sector.

Raising Films calls on the UK screen sector to recognise the value of its parent and carer members and ensure that the best possible working practices are available to them. We challenge the sector to find ways to prevent the loss of talent and enable the working parent and carer community to grow in number so that all voices can be heard.

Since 2015 Raising Films has been carrying out ground-breaking research, building an online community, running training programmes, publishing resources and awarding the Raising Films Ribbon for best practice.

We are a community interest company, founded by five people working in film and television and now expanded to a core team of part-time members of staff plus an advisory board and industry ambassadors.

About the BFI

We are a cultural charity, a National Lottery distributor, and the UK’s lead organisation for film and the moving image.
Our mission is:

  • To use our knowledge to educate and deepen public appreciation and understanding
  • To work with Government and industry to ensure the continued growth of the UK’s screen industries
  • To support creativity and actively seek out the next generation of UK storytellers
  • To grow and care for the BFI National Archive, the world’s largest film and television archive
  • To offer the widest range of UK and international moving image culture through our programmes

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Tim Richards.

About Screen Scotland

Screen Scotland is driving the cultural, social and economic development of all aspects of the sector in Scotland through enhanced funding, services and support and backing from Scottish Government and The National Lottery.  Screen Scotland sits within Creative Scotland and works in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council, working in close collaboration with the sector to ensure its success. / Twitter / Instagram. Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland a  

About SIGN

The Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN) [] is a unique, business-facing initiative supporting the TV, film and games industries in Yorkshire and the Humber. SIGN aims to make this region the UK’s centre for digital creativity, and a model of diverse and inclusive activity. In order to do this, SIGN connects companies, support agencies and universities through a programme of training, business development, research and evaluation. SIGN is based at the University of York. For further information please visit:, and follow on Twitter @screen_network

About Bectu

Bectu is the union for creative ambition, representing 35,000 staff, contract and freelance workers in the media and entertainment industries.

About WGGB

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) is a trade union representing writers for TV, film, theatre, radio, books, comedy, poetry, animation and videogames. It negotiates national agreements on pay and conditions with key industry bodies, including BBC, ITV and Pact; the Royal Court, National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company. It campaigns and lobbies on behalf of writers and offers a wide range of benefits to its members.


For further information or to interview someone from the Raising Films team please contact [email protected].