How are you? No really, how are you doing? For the first time in ages, we actually mean that when we ask someone. We might not be able to see each other in person, but we’re spending more time on the phone and online connecting with each other: physical distancing, social solidarity.
But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a difficult time. Our industry runs on freelancers, from actors to runners, all the way to producers and directors. We’re used to uncertainty in terms of our careers and finances, but this is another level. Overnight, the industry closed down, and many of us are struggling to know where we’re going to get our next paycheck.
This is a tough time for the TCN too, but we’re trying our best to look at how we can support you through this time and be here for you when it’s all over.
We wanted to pull together a few resources around the financial support that’s available, from the government and other sources, as well as some pointers on where to access mental health support. A bit of a caveat: this list isn’t exhaustive, we’re sure there’s other sources of support available, so feel free to comment with any useful links! And particularly with the government support, criteria are changing as they respond to the criticisms that they’re leaving people out, so even if you think you don’t qualify, read the guidance available carefully and keep updated.
We hope this proves useful – in the meantime, stay safe and take care of yourselves. We’ll see you on the other side.
Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
This is meant to help those who are self-employed. You can claim if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
- have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019
- traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
- are trading when you apply, or would be except for coronavirus
- intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
- have lost trading profits due to coronavirus
Read the info carefully for the details – HMRC will aim to contact you by mid May 2020 if you’re eligible for the scheme and invite you to claim using the GOV.UK online service. You could get up to 80% of your monthly income for 3 months, up to £2500 per month. Grants will not be paid until June 2020. You can apply for Universal Credit while you wait.
There has been criticism that this scheme doesn’t cover directors of limited companies or people who have recently gone self employed and didn’t file a 2018/19 tax return. There could be changes to this scheme to address these issues. Keep up to date on the HMRC link below:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
This scheme is for people on PAYE contracts. It should cover freelancers who move from job to job on short term PAYE contracts as well – there have been recent changes to the scheme to try and capture more of these workers. It’s still not perfect, but if you’d already been let go from a PAYE contact, it is worth contacting your last employer to see if they’d be willing to rehire you and furlough you, so you qualify for the scheme. This is up to them, it’s not a government requirement.
The scheme is administered by employers and they will decide who they offer furloughing to. Your employer will let you know if you’re going to be covered by the scheme. The government are offering up to 80% of your salary, with a cap of £2500 a month. It currently looks like this will be subject to tax and NI, just like the self-employed scheme. Some employers are topping up people’s salary but they are under no obligation to do so.
Check if you might be covered under the scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
PACT’s most recent guidance to production companies: http://www.pact.co.uk/news-detail.html?id=covid-19-job-retention-scheme-q-a
Scotland Additional Support
If you live in Scotland, the government are offering additional support for small businesses and self employed people.
Details and how to apply: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-individuals-and-businesses-in-scotland
Check out the information below to see if you might be eligible for universal credit and what you need to do to apply.
Charities and Industry Support
The Film and TV Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund
The Film and TV COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund has been created in partnership with the BFI. We’re able to provide one-off grants from £500 to £2,500 to active workers in film, TV and cinema facing significant financial hardship as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
There’s not a lot of time left to apply for this! Applications will close: 6pm Wednesday 22nd April 2020
Arts Council Covid 19 Funds
The Arts Council have announced funds for individuals, non NPO organisations and funding for NPOs. Read their guidance here and apply before 30 April (if you don’t have a Grantium profile you will need to set one up by 27 April to apply).
Grants of up to £2500 are available for individuals and up to £35,000 for non NPO organisations.
Audio and Radio Emergency Fund
Set up by the Radio Academy, AudioUK, the BBC, Audible and Reelworld, the scheme will give grants of up to £1,000 to individuals who need extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as those in hardship who are receiving no government assistance; people who need help with radio or audio development projects, or those who need new equipment or software.
The fund will be open for applications from Monday 20 April.
Mental Health Support
These circumstances can take a toll on our mental health. The uncertainty and anxiety about what happens next are universal. There are ways we can all support each other, especially if you’re isolating alone. Make sure you take time to talk to your friends and family on the phone, do some exercise if you can. Don’t feel under undue pressure to be creative, bake banana bread or learn a new language during lockdown, for some people that will help, but for other’s it’s just an added pressure.
Here’s a couple of useful links to help you with your mental wellbeing from the Film and TV Charity. They have some oneline resrouces, but also, their 24 support line is still running and you can pick up the phone at any time to speak to someone or use their Live Chat option.
Mental Wellbeing Support: https://filmtvcharity.org.uk/covid-19-help-advice/mental-wellbeing/
Film and TV Charity 24 Hour Support Line: https://filmtvcharity.org.uk/we-can-help/support-line/
Phone Line: 0800 054 0000.