• Government unveils £500 fund to cover coronavirus losses
  • Fund expected to jumpstart UK production sector
  • Productions have struggled to restart due to inability to get coronavirus insurance

woman in production

UK production sector: New fund to kickstart production 

The UK government has unveiled a £500m fund to help domestic film and TV productions struggling to get coronavirus related insurance, in a move that looks set to jumpstart the scripted sector.

The majority of the UK’s TV and film industry has been unable to return to work since lockdown started in March because of a lack of Covid-19 insurance for production.

News of the insurance fund follows months of discussions between the UK industry, led by producers alliance Pact CEO John McVay, supported by the BFI, and the government.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden announced the Film & TV Production Restart Scheme.

The DCMS said the scheme will fill the gap left by the lack of available insurance and cover coronavirus-related losses for cast member and crew illnesses and filming delays or disruptions caused by the virus.

The funding will be available to all productions where at least half of the production budget is spent in the UK. It is estimated to cover more than 70% of the film and TV production market to the end of the year.

Sunak said: “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 Film & TV Production Restart Scheme will be available to compensate productions after they have restarted, where costs are incurred due to delays or abandonment as a result of coronavirus.

The DCMS described the fund as a temporary measure, supporting productions which begin filming before the end of the calendar year and for coronavirus-related losses through to the end of June 2021.

Subject to EU state aid approval, the intention is that eligible productions will 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.

There will be a total cap on claims per production of £5m, and productions will need to pay an excess when seeking to claim under the scheme, as well as a fee when joining the scheme. Productions will also need to purchase insurance to cover non-coronavirus risks to ensure their production is adequately insured.

News of the fund has been welcomed by the production sector, which was thriving before the pandemic. In the UK, the film and television production industry supports more than 180,000 jobs and contributes more than £12 billion ($15.6 billion) to the economy annually. However, most on and off-screen production talent has been unable to work since March.

Pact CEO John McVay said: “This very welcome news shows that the UK Government has listened to one of our key industries and has taken unprecedented steps to support our highly successful indigenous film and TV production and broadcasting industry to get back to what we love most - making TV programmes and films enjoyed by UK audiences and many more millions around the globe.

Sara Geater, chair of Pact and COO of All3Media, said: “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.”

Hakan Kousetta, chief operating officer of See-Saw Films, said: “This is exactly the shot in the arm the TV and film industry has been waiting for. This intervention will allow production companies to get going again and thereby ensure that hundreds of millions of pounds worth of production spend can be applied to British jobs and services.”

Martin Haines, managing director of drama indie Kudos, who has been part of the negotiations, said: “This is a decisive and timely intervention which turns the lights back on and is an absolute gamechanger for recovery of the TV and film industries and the thousands of people who work in them.”

Join IBC’s virtual event IBC SHOWCASE (8-11 September). Online and on demand, the IBC SHOWCASE provides you with a flavour of IBC. Register free to join your community.