West End actors demand pay rise after theatre producers' 13.5% tax break


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The Independent Culture

Actors performing in the West End have demanded a pay-rise of up to a tenth more a week after a change in their employment status landed producers with a “National Insurance windfall”.

Equity, the union for actors, has submitted a claim for the pay rise of between eight per cent and 10 per cent – depending on the size of the theatre – to the employers represented by the Society of London Theatre (Solt).

This follows a change to actors’ National Insurance status in April, which gives the producers a tax break of 13.5 per cent. “The actors deserve to share in that,” a spokesman for Equity said.

He pointed out that the West End this year hit its 10th consecutive year of record box office takings, with nearly 15 million tickets sold. West End performers earn between £518 and £633 a week.

Solt has received Equity’s claims but negotiations are yet to start. “It’s very early days,” the Equity spokesman said. “This is unlikely to be resolved in weeks.” When a settlement is reached it will come into force in April next year.

Equity has also demanded that the minimum notice period for a show to be closed in the West End be doubled to four weeks.

This comes after some big-name shows closed on short notice, including X Factor musical I Can’t Sing! and The Full Monty.