30 Jul 2020 8:35 AM

On Tuesday, the UK’s film and TV industry received a very welcome windfall from the UK government. Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden have announced a fund worth £500 million earmarked specifically to help those domestic TV and film productions struggling to get adequate insurance cover for Covid-19.

This announcement has been followed by months of work, with the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force working closely with the government to advise on the needs and specific issues facing the industry.

As lockdown has continued to tentatively ease and we have slowly crept back towards some semblance of normal life, there has until now been no movement forward on this significant barrier. Whilst a lot of industries more adversely affected, such as hospitality, have been able to start opening up to the public with clear guidance in place on exactly what they need to do and the acceptable levels of safety and risks they can incur – this is much more difficult to summarise for film production companies. The nature of the industry demands travel, working away from home and close proximity to colleagues and co-stars, with different and varied levels of risk depending on the nature of a production. This welcome announcement should help the industry begin to come back from the limbo of uncertainty it has been left in since lockdown easing began.

Industry bosses welcomed the news, with the Chair of the Production Guild Alex Bowden commenting, "The introduction of an insurance guarantee fund is the boost that the UK Film and TV industries have been hoping for and will enable a green light for the many productions that have been waiting to start up.”

John McVay, the chief executive of the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television 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.”

The scheme officially launches today and the key features noted at this point regarding the nature of the fund and how it will be accessed are as follows:

  • Films or shows commencing before the end of the year through to June 2021 will be eligible for cover, as long as half the production budget has been spent in the UK.
  • Companies will be able to back-date claims to the scheme if they have now resumed production.
  • For delays caused by Covid-19 – companies could be compensated up to 20% of the production budget.
  • For abandonments caused by Covid-19 – companies could be compensated up to 70% of their production budget.
  • Claims are capped at £5million per production
  • Companies must pay an appropriate excess and fee to join the scheme
  • Companies will need to ensure they purchase normal insurance alongside to cover all other risk factors unrelated to Covid-19

We will continue to provide updated as more details emerge, hopefully this heralds the beginning of a much-needed resurgence in film and TV production.

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