U.K. Coronavirus Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund Opens for Applications

Tim Dams

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The COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund has opened for applications in the U.K., as research shows that 93% of industry freelancers are no longer working due to the coronavirus crisis.

Created by The Film and TV Charity in partnership with the BFI to provide support to workers and freelancers hit hardest by the closure of productions across the U.K., the fund has been supported by initial donations totalling £2.5 million ($3.1 million) from Netflix, the BFI, BBC Studios, BBC Content, WarnerMedia and several private donors.

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One-off grants between £500 ($615) and £2,500 ($3,075) will be awarded based on need.

The time-limited fund — applications will remain open for two weeks — is being administered by The Film and TV Charity, with support from BFI staff. Both organizations are covering all overheads of administering the fund.

According to a survey by The Film and TV Charity, 93% of industry freelancers are no longer working due to the crisis, while 74% are not expected to receive any support since they are either ineligible for the government’s Self-employment Income Support Scheme or have not been furloughed as PAYE freelancers under the Job Retention Scheme.

Around 75% of respondents said they were very or extremely worried about their income in coming months, while nearly half said they were worried about meeting basic living costs.

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of The Film and TV Charity, said the time-limited COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund is designed to provide financial support where the need is most acute. “Our systems will highlight applicants who are experiencing particular distress and our experienced team will respond to those red flags with personal follow-up calls.”

Ben Roberts, chief executive of the BFI, said: “We know a huge number of freelance professionals in our community have been some of the hardest hit during the coronavirus crisis, so we are delighted that the fund is now open for applications.”

Applications for the one-off grants can be made via The Film and TV Charity’s website.

The Fund is launching alongside an appeal by The Film and TV Charity for additional donations.

The Film and TV Charity has also unveiled the new COVID-19 Film and TV Repayable Grants Scheme offering support for industry freelancers waiting for payments under the Government’s Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

Interest-free grants of up to £2,000 ($2,460) will be offered to those eligible for Self-employment Income Support but who are struggling with the wait for payments that are not set to arrive until June.

The COVID-19 Film and TV Repayable Grants Scheme opens April 15. Applicants will have one week to make a claim via The Film and TV Charity’s website. The Relief Fund and Repayable Grants Scheme sit beside the organization’s existing Hardship Fund, which offers grants of up to £500 ($614) to provide stop-gap support.

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