2020 was a difficult - often seemingly impossible - year for film and TV production. COVID-19 and the requirements for social distancing made shooting a tough ask and most of the industry was forced to shut down during the national lockdowns. However, one ray of hope during everything that happened last year was the Covid Protection Insurance Scheme, which enabled a large number of shoots to continue after the initial shut down. This scheme is due to come to an end in February this year and producers across the country are calling for an extension.
What is the Covid Production Insurance Scheme?
The scheme is the biggest production insurance intervention in the world. It allows for shoots to receive compensation for future losses arising from COVID-19, for example where illness causes delays to scheduled shooting. One of the key eligibility criteria is that at least half the production budget must be spent in the UK. There is an excess to pay under the policy, as well as a fee to join the scheme and a cap on each claim of £5 million.
Why is the scheme important to the entertainment industry?
Thanks to the introduction of the scheme £1 billion of shoots were able to return to work after the initial COVID lockdown. It has basically enabled a big part of the industry to restart after the catastrophic impact of the UK effectively coming to a standstill, as well as all the health and safety and social distancing requirements that have been imposed since then. The presence of the scheme has helped to bring confidence back to the market, according to those working in the industry, and it has meant that more shows are being commissioned, which gives the sector some hope of recovery once the pandemic is finally under control.
What about the extension?
The Covid Production Insurance Scheme has already been extended once, from December to February. Currently, shoots need to start within this timeframe to be eligible for the scheme, which could be an especially tough requirement to meet now that the UK is back in a national lockdown. Producers are now hoping that they can convince the government to extend the scheme from February to June 2021. This would not only take into account the impact of the new lockdown but also the need for ongoing support. It would also enable some shoots to catch up on lost filming time by taking advantage of the longer daylight hours as we move into spring and summer. This can be the busiest time of year for producers as the weather is much more conducive to shooting in the warmer months and it’s possible to get more done - the hope is that the government will confirm an extension of the scheme sooner rather than later in order to enable planning to begin.
As the UK enters its third national lockdown there is even more pressure to extend the Covid Production Insurance Scheme, to help productions play catch up later in the year and to give the industry a fighting chance at something more than just survival.
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