Published on: 06 January 2021 in Industry

COVID-19 (Coronavirus): An Update for Members — 6 January

Reading time: 5 minutes and 49 seconds

The UK has once again entered lockdown in an attempt to combat the continued threat of COVID-19.

Read on to find out the latest about government restrictions, film and TV production under COVID, and financial support.

Despite new lockdown measures introduced throughout the UK earlier this week, the Government has confirmed that film and TV production can continue. However, with a new COVID strain causing increased uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to make sure that you are safe on set, and following government guidelines and best practice.

Our Working Under COVID resource, released last autumn, lists key areas to consider and questions to ask yourself and your production team when undertaking any production work. While designed with factual directors in mind, it provides an important framework for directors working in all genres, particularly small crews working on micro-budget independent films or documentaries who may not be able to rely on production company protocols. Read and download Working Under COVID.

The British Film Commission has also updated its guidance for working safely in film and high-end TV production. Read the updated guidance here.

The Pact and broadcasters’ TV Production Guidance remains in place.

If you don’t feel safe at work or are having issues implementing safe working practices and would like some advice, Directors UK is here for you. Please contact us on [email protected].

General restrictions differ slightly across the nations. Click on the links below for detailed information:

Other useful resources:

Financial support

On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £4.6 billion in grants to support businesses through the latest national lockdown, but once again failed to address the gaps in support for freelancers and the self-employed. Addressing this unfair and short-sighted exclusion continues to be a priority for Directors UK, and we are continuing to work with organisations across the industry to fight for those affected.

As we understand it, this is the support that is currently available for those who are eligible:

For those previously on furlough:

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ‘furlough’ scheme had been due to close on 31 October 2020. This has now been extended until March 2021. Employees can receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.

For those with mortgages:

Borrowers who have been impacted by coronavirus and have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday may be entitled to a six-month holiday, and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file.

For the self-employed:

The Government previously announced a third instalment of the UK-wide Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Claimants can receive 80% of their average trading profits. Money can also be claimed faster. The maximum grant will be £7,500.

The deadline for applying for this third instalment is currently 29 January.

To be eligible for the grant extension, self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, must:

  • have been previously eligible for the first and second Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants (although they do not have to have claimed the previous grants)
  • declare that they intend to continue to trade and either:
    • are currently actively trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
    • were previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus

It is possible that either this third instalment of the SEISS will be extended or a fourth instalment will be launched. We will update members should this happen.

For the self-employed also claiming Universal Credit:

Prior to the pandemic, Universal Credit support payments to self-employed people were made on the assumption that the self-employed person was earning a baseline sum of money and Universal Credit effectively topped that up. When the pandemic began, this assumption was suspended and self-employed people could claim support based on their actual earnings. This suspension had been due to end in November last year, but the Department for Work and Pensions announced that this suspension will remain until the end of April 2021, enabling self-employed people who have seen their earnings drop to claim support at a different rate.

Protect your physical and mental health during lockdown

Useful resources: 

For more resources and information on financial support and mental wellbeing, please visit our COVID-19 advice page. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at [email protected].

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