Last updated: 8 June 2022
COVID-19 presented the screen sectors with an unprecedented challenge. The coronavirus continues to be present and therefore we continue to track information and any potential implications for the sector.
For any enquiries relating to COVID-19 and its impact on the sector please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Government provides up to date advice and guidance on COVID-19 relating to business and civilian life.
Advice from the NHS regarding vaccination, testing and how to get an NHS COVID Pass is available.
Recovery plan for the sector
The BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force, a cross-industry group representing the breadth of the screen sector – from production to distribution, international sales, exhibition, skills development and bodies representing television, animation, VFX and skills – helped develop and deliver a recovery plan for the sector on behalf of the UK Government.
Over the past two years the Government provided a significant programme of fiscal support for individuals and businesses including the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England and the Film and Television Production Restart Scheme, as well as the Job Retention Scheme open to all industries.
The UK Government has now removed remaining domestic restrictions in England under its Living safely with Covid guidance. As business has resumed, support measures have come to a close.
We continue to communicate with colleagues in Government and other organisations and funders across the sector, to ensure we all fully understand how the pandemic is impacting the recovery of the sector. We continue to operate a email@example.com email address, as a centralised point for all COVID-19 related enquiries.
Film and television production
The UK Government continues to provide the latest advice for international travel on GOV.UK includes checklists and how to use the NHS COVID Pass to prove vaccination status when abroad. Business and leisure travellers are advised to continue to check the latest advice for travelling abroad for making their return journey to the UK.
In summary, you do not need to complete a UK passenger locator form before you travel back to England, take any COVID-19 tests or quarantine when you arrive in England. There are currently no red list restrictions in place for travel to England.
All travellers are advised to check information for any COVID-19 requirements for the countries they intend to visit.
In order to help the sector in returning to work as quickly and safely as possible, the Task Force has developed sector specific codes of practice for both film and high-end TV drama production, and for workers and customers in cinemas and exhibition venues as well as contributing to and supporting other measures.
Film and TV Production Restart Scheme (PRS)
The Government’s UK-wide £500 million Film and TV Production Restart Scheme (PRS) was set up to help domestic film and TV productions struggling to get insurance for COVID-related risks in order to get back into production. The scheme offered productions confidence if cast member and crew illnesses and filming delays or disruptions are incurred due to Covid-19. It has successfully restarted 1,259 productions with a total budget value over £3 billion and has supported more than 100,000 jobs.
Important information for users of the scheme
The Film and TV Production Restart Scheme has now closed to new applications. Users of the scheme users are able to submit their claims up to 23:59 GMT on 30 September 2022, for losses occurring up to 23:59 GMT on 30 June 2022.
The administrator will be in place up to 31 December 2022 to settle all remaining claims, so productions are asked to submit their claims as early as they can and respond promptly to information requests.
Productions should also be aware that the DCMS has appointed BDO to provide Post-Event Assurance (PEA) on the Scheme. PEA is a form of audit which is undertaken after payments have been made, to provide assurance to government that payments and processes have been completed accurately and within the Scheme rules. It will also seek to identify any indications of fraud and/or error. BDO will test 20% of all paid claims and their associated applications, requiring further evidence. More details will be provided if your claim is selected for testing.
A checklist for productions submitting claims can be accessed through Marsh which is managing the scheme for the DCMS.
Production guidance for film and high-end TV production
In line with Government’s Living with COVID-19 plan, and in consultation with industry, the British Film Commission has updated its Working safely during COVID-19 in film and high-end TV drama production guidance to help productions continue to manage the risk of COVID-19 as part of their overarching Health & Safety considerations. Productions should use this guidance to consider specific risks and decide which mitigations are appropriate to adopt. This guidance is kept under review.
The UK Screen Alliance also published its COVID-19 guidance for safe working for the Visual Effects (VFX) and Post-Production. This guidance aims to provide a framework for companies as they transitioned back to on-premises working, whilst ensuring the safety of their employees, contractors, and clients.
The BFI and the British Film Commission have worked with ScreenSkills to develop an online training programme to guide people on how to implement the guidance. This free, basic awareness training is supported by the ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund and the BFI through its National Lottery-funded Future Film Skills strategy.
Read the Government’s general working safely guidelines.
It is important to note that the individual production will still need to ensure that they satisfy any requirements put in place by insurers, financiers or completion bonders.
The new BFC guidance complements production guidance by ITV, BBC, Sky, Channel 4, Channel 5, STV, ITN, the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA) and Pact concerning wider TV programme making in every genre. Find out more.
Helpline for people working in the industry
The Film and TV Support Line is open 24/7 to offer advice, signposting and a listening ear. Through the support line you can access the emotional and financial support services offered by the charity, including counselling, legal advice and financial grants.
You can find out more about the support the charity offers by calling the helpline on 0800 054 0000 or on its website. Many screen sector unions and trade organisations provide advice and support to their members. This includes:
Information for businesses
UK and devolved governments introduced a series of measures designed to financially support businesses during the pandemic. The majority of these are now closed in line with the Government’s Living with COVID-19 plan.
To support the cashflow of businesses, the Government extended the loss carry back rules worth up to £760,000 per company. Find out more.
From 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2023, companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery assets are able to claim:
- a 130% super-deduction capital allowance on qualifying plant and machinery investments
- a 50% first-year allowance for qualifying special rate assets
This is worth around £25 billion to UK companies over the two-year period the super-deduction will be in full effect. Find out more.
Time to Pay
The Government will ensure that businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help those in need, and they may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. This can be reached at 0800 0159 559.
Business rates relief
Mitigations vary on a devolved basis.
- England: retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, including cinemas, were able to pay no business rates until the end of June 2021.
- Northern Ireland: Businesses pay zero rates for the full financial year 2020/21.
- Scotland: full rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors is available until the end of 2022.
- Wales: retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £500,000 or less will receive 100% business rate relief until the end of 2022.
Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) was withdrawn on 1 April 2022. Information on SSP is published on GOV.UK. Find out more.
The UK Government announced that corporation tax will increase to 25% from 2023. Businesses with profits of £50,000 or less will continue to be taxed at 19% and a taper above £50,000 will be introduced so that only businesses with profits greater than £250,000 will be taxed at the full 25% rate.
Culture Recovery Fund for independent cinemas
The UK Government provided an unprecedented £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help Britain’s culture, arts and heritage organisations including independent cinemas hit hard by the pandemic.
The fund allocation for independent cinemas in England, administered by the BFI, supported 209 independent cinemas across England with nearly £34 million in grants through three rounds of the fund during 2020, 2021 and 2022. In addition, cinemas which operate within mixed arts venues were funded via the Arts Council England. The fund is now closed.
Similar funds were made available in the devolved nations, run by Screen Scotland, Welsh Government and Arts Council Northern Ireland.
HMT also enabled cinemas to benefit from a cut in VAT on tickets to 5% from 15 July 2020 until the end of September 2021, followed by a 12.5% rate for a further six months until 31 March 2022.
BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund
The BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund made over £630,000 of National Lottery funding available to exhibitors across the UK. It supported activity to re-engage audiences with collective, big screen film experiences at film festivals, mixed arts venues, and both community and traditional cinemas.
More information on how BFI FAN is welcoming audiences is published on the BFI FAN’s Bigger Picture website. Find out more.
Safety guidance for cinemas
The UK Cinema Association (UKCA) produced guidance for the exhibition sector, Cinemas – keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19, in consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with input from the BFI, the Screen Sector Task Force, the Independent Cinema Office and BECTU, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).