It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Charles. I congratulate Nickie Aiken on securing the debate. I draw attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests with support from the Musicians’ Union.
I start with a message to all who work in the creative industries, and to musicians in particular: you are viable, you do matter and you deserve better, because you are the lifeblood of my constituency and our country, not just economically but for our soul. Everyone in the Chamber knows that. I think of the Wales millennium centre, the Glee Club’s stand-up comedy, the theatre and events sector and the amazing film and TV that goes on in my constituency. I think of dance, live music and so much more, which is crucial for our economy and crucial for our soul. All of this is devastating for me personally, as a singer and performer—I know that many others in this room who have come from the industry, whether professionally or semi-professionally, will be feeling the same—and it is devastating for my constituents in Cardiff South and Penarth.
Yes, some are adapting. BBC Studios has adapted in a covid-safe way in Cardiff South and Penarth, and the world-leading Iris Prize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender film festival is starting tonight virtually, online. That is fantastic, but many others simply cannot adapt in a way that is economically sustainable for them and those who work in their industries, and unfortunately the response of the UK Government has been too slow and too little, and too many are falling through the gaps. One major local music body has told me in the past two days that the Chancellor’s declarations about viable jobs are meaningless and insensitive in this context. I want to draw attention to the demands by the Musicians’ Union and many others in this sector, who have said that not only do we need to get musicians back to work safely as soon as possible—70% of them are currently unable to do more than a quarter of their usual work, in order to get the income that they normally rely on—but we need to expand the self-employment scheme, because 38% of musicians are ineligible for the schemes the Chancellor has set out. We also need individual support.