Spring Budget 2024: What it means for writers and the creative sector

The budget saw measures that will benefit some areas of the sector but included little or no support to grassroots creators.

The announcement of a 2% cut in national insurance aims to reward work, yet it will once more undervalue the contributions of our self-employed creative workforce. Overall, taxes remain at a 70-year high and low earners will lose out more from frozen tax thresholds than they will gain from national insurance cuts.

Creators’ remuneration has seen sustained year-on-year falls without any greater targeted support. The cuts to national insurance will only reinforce this trend as average earnings among writers are significantly lower than the anticipated threshold to benefit from these cuts, which economists believe starts at around £20,000 and tapers off at £60,000.

Living standards have also declined over the course of the parliament, which is the first time in modern history.


Increasing funding for UK Public Lending Right (PLR) would be a targeted way of supporting writers and allowing more payments to a wider range of writers beyond ‘bestsellers’. However, funding for PLR has been frozen for many years and now sits at half the value of PLR schemes in Germany and France.

How the budget supports the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda is unclear, but with large pots of funding dedicated to improving well-established theatres including both the Welsh and English national theatres, alongside new funding to re-purpose and rejuvenate Canary Wharf in East London, the original intention and ambition to improve infrastructure in the North of England appears to have been lost.


The impact of artificial intelligence remains a pressing concern for authors. The budget giveaway of £100 million to the Alan Turing Institute will primarily be channelled into the research of ethics and the future impact on humanity, the economy and work. Although useful and necessary, these measure will not shift the dial in the short term, nor provide conclusive answers or frameworks to protect, reassure and support human creative endeavours.


It was encouraging to hear the Chancellor’s acknowledgment of the importance of the film industry to the UK economy:

“We have become Europe’s largest film and TV production centre. At the current rate of expansion, we will be second only to Hollywood globally by the end of 2025.”

We also welcome the announcement to support the film industry through a 40% relief on gross business rates for eligible film studios in the coming decade. This measure, alongside a new UK Independent Film Tax Credit at a rate of 53% for films with budgets under £15 million, were pleasing to see. Whilst we are happy to see a commitment to renewed levels of funding support to our world leading and growth critical, creative industries, film and TV production are not our only cultural assets that matter.

ALCS welcomed the introduction of bigger tax benefits for TV and film, including an increase in the rate of tax credit by 5% and the removal of the 80% cap for visual effects costs in the Audio-Visual Expenditure Credit. While the removal of the cap will incentivise British creators to continue investing in the UK, the focus on production-based incentives means funding for development scripts may not be directly affected.

We are encouraged by the Chancellor’s announcement of £26 million in renovations for the National Theatre as part of measures aimed at helping the creative industries, as well as £100 million for cultural projects in local communities including Theatr Clwyd in North Wales. Alongside permanently establishing 45% and 40% tax reliefs for touring and non-touring orchestral productions, respectively, we hope this will be a positive step forward to encourage the theatres to proactively amplify audio-visual writers to continue helping the industry flourish.

Although these measures will be beneficial to the creative sector, yet again we see unimaginative and costly measures channelled predominantly into Film and TV from the top down rather than supporting grassroots creators from the bottom up. Tax relief will yet again benefit large production companies, while freelance creators, writers, authors are ignored.

The Government recognises the creative industries as an important engine of growth but continues to eschew the opportunity to redress the imbalance for freelance writers and other parts of the creative industries in favour of ever-greater top-down funding and a film and TV-centric cultural industrial strategy.

Barbara Hayes, Chief Executive of ALCS, commented: 

“Overall, ALCS is pleased to see renewed funding for our world-leading and growth-critical creative industries. While we are delighted that film and TV have benefitted, they are not the only part of our cultural capital that matters. The measures announced today will benefit high-profile institutions but do little to nurture grassroots creators.

Unfortunately, the cut in national insurance neglects to consider that average earnings for writers are significantly lower than the anticipated threshold – so many of our writer members won’t benefit from this at all. While the Government has failed to address the imbalance for freelance creators and individual writers, it’s encouraging to see recognition for the creative industries as an engine of growth.”

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