UK gov launches scheme to “kickstart” film, TV productions hit with COVID-19 costs

The UK government revealed a £500 million (US$649 million) scheme Tuesday (July 28) for domestic film and TV productions to get coronavirus-related insurance. The temporary purse is meant to fill the gap left ...
July 29, 2020

The UK government revealed a £500 million (US$649 million) scheme Tuesday (July 28) for domestic film and TV productions to get coronavirus-related insurance.

The temporary purse is meant to fill the gap left by the lack of available insurance and cover COVID-19 losses tied to cast member and crew illnesses as well as filming delays or disruptions.

Dubbed the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, the funding is available to productions made by companies where at least half of the production budget is spent in the UK.

The measure is available to productions that begin filming before the end of the calendar year and for coronavirus-related losses through the end of June 2021.

Eligible productions can receive compensation for costs caused by coronavirus delays up to a value of 20% of the production budget, with abandonment of productions due to coronavirus to be covered up to 70% of the production budget, “upon agreement with the Government that abandonment was necessary.”

There will be a total cap on claims per production of £5 million (US$6.5 million), and productions will need to pay “an appropriate excess” when seeking to claim under the scheme, as well as “an appropriate fee” when joining the scheme.

Productions will also need to purchase insurance to cover non-coronavirus risks, and provide evidence that they cannot return to work because of a lack of insurance.

Further details on the eligibility process and claims system are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

UK chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak said in a statement: “This targeted scheme, which will help fill the gap created by the lack of available insurance, will help protect tens of thousands of jobs, from actors and directors through to camera operators, costume designers, and runners. The sector is worth over £12 billion to the UK’s economy, so it’s right that we do what we can to help them reopen and get back to making the films and shows that we all love.”

The federal government has been working with an industry group as part of the British Film Institute’s Sector Task Force, led by trade association Pact.

Pact chief John McVay said in a statement the scheme is “very welcome news.”

“This will not only help many hundreds of small companies across the UK, but also the many thousands of freelancers who have been furloughed to get back to work along with those who sadly weren’t able to benefit from the Government’s interventions,” he added. “And with over 500 companies telling us at the beginning of lockdown that they only had enough reserves for three to six months, it will also help one of the world’s most successful independent sectors back to growth.”

Sara Geater, chair of Pact and COO of All3Media, said in a statement: “The UK indie sector had a very strong 2019, making award winning series for both the UK and US markets. We have been very badly hit by COVID-19 and the support of the government at this time is critical and hugely appreciated. Our sector now has every chance of a return to being the successful global industry that we are renowned for.”

The UK government also announced how organizations can apply for £880 million in grants from next week as part of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, which will provide grants of up to £3 million will protect “important cultural assets.”

In the first round of funding, £622 million will be distributed. Arts Council England will oversee £500 million to support institutions across the arts and cultural sector including theatres. Independent cinemas will be able to apply to the British Film Institute’s £30 million grant scheme.

A total of £258 million will be reserved for a second round of funding later in the financial year to meet the developing needs of organisations.

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is a special reports editor at realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.