Pact has welcomed the announcement by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden, of the new Government fund of £500m to help domestic film and TV productions struggling to get coronavirus related insurance.
Pact's Chief Executive John McVay leads the industry's working group on insurance as part of the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force. The group has been working with Government to reach a solution to the lack of COVID-19 insurance, which has prevented the majority of the UK’s TV and film industry from returning to work.
Commenting on the announcement, 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.
"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.
"It will also be good news for UK viewers who will be looking forward to new content becoming available as soon as possible. And with over 500 companies telling us at the beginning of lockdown that they only had enough reserves for 3-6 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: “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.”
Along with UK broadcasters Pact involved many leading production companies in the negotiations.
Hakan Kousetta, Chief Operating Officer, See-Saw Films, who also sits on the industry working group, 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, 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.”
What we know: Film and TV Production Restart Scheme
– The Film & TV Production Restart Scheme will be available to compensate productions after they have restarted, and only where costs are then incurred due to delays or abandonment as a result of Coronavirus.
– This is a temporary measure, supporting productions which commence filming before the end of the calendar year and for coronavirus-related losses through to the end of June 2021. It will be possible to back date any future claims for eligible losses to today’s date. Further details on the eligibility process and claims system will be provided in the coming weeks.
– Subject to 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, upon agreement with the Government that abandonment was necessary.
– There will be a total cap on claims per production of £5m, 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 to ensure their production is adequately insured.
– Productions will need to provide evidence that they cannot return to work because of a lack of insurance.
– The funding will be available to all productions made by companies where at least half of the production budget is spent in the UK.
We will update members further as and when we have more details.