Thursday 2 April 2020 12:25 pm

MPs call for clarity over coronavirus support for film and TV workers

MPs have urged the government to clarify what support it will offer to people in the UK’s entertainment sector who are unable to work due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee warned there was a loophole in government measures that meant many workers could be excluded from existing government measures.

Read more: Netflix donates £1m to emergency coronavirus fund for film and TV crew

Freelancers in creative industries such as film, TV and music face being denied support from the self-employment and job retention schemes while also being ineligible for universal credit, the committee said.

The MPs said freelancers hired on PAYE fixed-term contracts were particularly at risk during the pandemic.

“We’ve heard from a number of professionals and freelancers working in our creative and cultural industries like TV, film or music who face months without income or financial support because they don’t qualify for any of the government’s schemes,” said DCMS committee chair Julian Knight.

“Ministers must now look again at what help is being offered to ensure that people in these industries don’t end up paying an impossibly high price for the coronavirus crisis through no fault of their own.”

Filming on almost all UK film and TV productions has been shut down due to government measures on social distancing during the pandemic, leaving thousands of employees out of work.

In response to wider concerns about the impact of coronavirus on the creative industries, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said ministers were continuing to consult “extensively” with the sector.

“DCMS is engaging daily with Her Majesty’s Treasury to feed in their assessment of these potential impacts and ensure the needs of the creative industries are factored into the developing economic response, and that DCMS sectors are supported throughout this time,” he said.

Read more: Coronavirus: BBC suspends Eastenders filming

Last week Netflix said it had donated £1m to establish a new emergency relief fund aimed at supporting film and TV crew unable to work during the coronavirus crisis.

The fund, established with BFI and the Film and TV Charity, will provide short-term support to the thousands of full-time workers and freelancers affected by the closure of productions across the UK.