WGGB survey finds writing on the wall

Published: 21 November 2022
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Writers’ Guild of Great Britain

Research undertaken by cross-media writers’ union the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain reveals a grim picture saying that the UK faces “serious loss of writing talent”.

More than 250 writers were invited to take part in the cost of living survey that showed the biggest challenge is meeting energy and food bills, with 55% saying that this impacted their ability to sustain a writing career severely impacting livelihoods.

In the previous year, the writing work of 70+ per cent of respondents earned them £18,000 or less, with 67% overall using their savings to make ends meet and 37% relying on partners’ earnings. Over 80% of survey participants are freelance writers.

Other areas of the survey revealed fewer work opportunities, poor practice and wages falling behind because of inflation. As with reports of late payments, reduced budgets and smaller audience sizes, these were ascribed to the impact of Brexit and COVID.

Writers also expressed concern around organisations being forced to close because of increased running costs and the cost of living, citing theatres being amongst those most at risk.

WGGB’s Ellie Peers said, “after living through the dual impact of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, writers are now having to face a severe cost-of-living crisis, as our new survey shows. The UK faces a series loss of writing talent, and this risks pulling the rug from under our world-beating cultural industries, which contribute over £100 billion to our economy and enjoy an enviable global profile.

"We will be working with our industry partners to address the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on writers, we will continue to campaign and lobby, and we will defend our members against poor practice wherever we find it.”