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Filming in Northern Ireland

Coronavirus – information for the screen industry


The coronavirus pandemic has had a particularly severe impact on freelancers and companies alike working across the screen industry. Initial support packages have been announced by the UK Government, including support for the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

On this page you will find a summary of the current support available for the groups below as well as some useful links:

Freelancers / self-employed

Production / facility companies

Exhibitors

Useful links / helplines

Freelancers/self-employed

UK Government support

The UK Government has announced the following to support freelancers/self-employed individuals impacted by coronavirus:

1. The ‘Self Employed Income Support Scheme’.

  • The government will pay self-employed people, who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus, a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last 3 years, up to £2,500 per month. This will be open for a period of at least 3 months. You will be able to claim this grant and continue to do business.
  • It’s only open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, who make a majority of their income from self-employment. Only those already in self-employment, who have submitted a tax return for 2019, can apply.
  • The government expect the grants to be available no later than the beginning of June, and if you’re eligible, HMRC will contact you directly with an online form. The grant will then be paid straight to your bank account.
  • For more information click here – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

2. Universal Social Credit (USC) has been increased by £1k per year, to bring the allowance in line with Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a jobcentre. You can apply for the Universal Credit online using the following link – https://www.universal-credit.service.gov.uk/postcode-checker;

3. The USC minimum income floor has been suspended;

4. Self-assessment payments have been deferred until January 2021;

5. A three-month mortgage holiday for those in financial difficulty;

6. For renters, there will be an increase in housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in your area.

Union support

If you worked on a production that was covered by a BECTU agreement and are a BECTU member then you should check with BECTU what additional support is available:

Phone: 020 7346 0900
Email: [email protected]

BECTU members can also contact their local union representative directly for more information.

Production/facility companies

UK Government support

The UK Government announced the following to support production/facility companies impacted by Coronavirus:

  1. The ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’. This is a grant payable by HMRC to employers that choose to retain their staff and not make them redundant. It will cover 80% of employee salaries, up to £2,500 per month. The grant will be backdated to 1st March 2020 and will run until 31st October 2020. From August, there will be greater flexibility in scheme for firms to bring staff back to work, and government is expected to provide more details around this flexibility at a future date. Further guidance here; https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme/
  2. The ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’. More information here; https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme/
  3. NI Micro-business Hardship Fund to help Northern Ireland based micro-businesses and social enterprises unable to access other regional and national COVID-19 support measures. More information here; https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-ni-micro-business-hardship-fund

Northern Ireland Executive support

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced the following to support production/facility companies impacted by Coronavirus:

  1. No business rates in Northern Ireland for a period of 3 months
  2. An immediate grant of £10,000 available to all small businesses with a net annual value up to £15,000 and benefit from industrial de rating. More information here; https://www.covid-19smallbusinessgrants.economy-ni.gov.uk/

Exhibitors

UK Government support

The UK Government announced the following to support production/facility companies impacted by coronavirus:

  1. The ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’. This is a grant payable by HMRC to employers that choose to retain their staff and not make them redundant. It will cover 80% of employee salaries, up to £2,500 per month. The grant will be backdated to 1st March 2020 and will run until 31st October 2020. From August, there will be greater flexibility in scheme for firms to bring staff back to work, and government is expected to provide more details around this flexibility at a future date. Further guidance here; https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme/
  2. The ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’. More information here; https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme/
  3. VAT payments have been deferred for the next quarter. No business will pay VAT between now and mid-June. Employers will have until the end of the 20/21 financial year to catch up on this VAT payment.

Northern Ireland executive support

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced the following to support production/facility companies impacted by Coronavirus:

  1. No business rates in Northern Ireland for a period of 3 months;
  2. An immediate grant of £10,000 available to all small businesses with a net annual value up to £15,000 and benefit from industrial de rating. More information here; https://www.covid-19smallbusinessgrants.economy-ni.gov.uk/
  3. An immediate grant to companies in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors of £25,000 with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Useful links / helplines

HMRC Coronavirus helpline: 0300 456 3565

Film & TV Charity helpline

BFI – COVID-19: Answering questions from the screen sectors

Public Health Agency NI

Directory of services to help improve mental health and emotional wellbeing

Gov.uk – Check if your employer can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Gov.uk – COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses

Gov.uk – Bounce Back Loan Scheme

NI Business info – support for your business

Coronavirus in the workplace – update from law firm Millar McCall Wylie

Watch our coronavirus Q&A session with Millar McCall Wylie

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